China is the world’s second largest consumer of corn, but domestic production over the next decade could struggle to keep up with demand. A recent OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook for China paints a grim picture for Chinese corn self-sufficiency. Growth in corn production is expected to slow between 2017 and 2026 to 7%, while consumption is expected to expand 6% over that period. China’s imports and exports of corn for 2018/19 are projected to be negligible at 5 million tonnes and 0.05 million tonnes, respectively, according to the latest USDA WASDE report, suggesting China is able to maintain self-sufficiency in corn—for now.
By contrast, China’s oilseed crop production is expected to increase by 14% in the coming decade, although consumption will jump by 37%.
The main drivers contributing to China’s precarious corn supplies are its wildly expanding livestock industry, a revitalized bioethanol program, and resistance to adopting genetically modified crops. This year, China's corn yield is expected to be around 6.18 tonnes per hectare, far below the US’s projected 11.38 tonnes per hectare. The FAO report projects a 26-percent increase in beef and veal production over the next decade, putting a strain on China’s corn stocks. Gro Intelligence subscribers can monitor Chinese corn supply and demand into the future through up-to-date data and analytics.
Corn consumption in China has risen steadily, while corn stocks have declined (left chart), due in part to growing livestock operations. Meanwhile, Chinese corn yields are well below those in the US, and official Chinese estimates call for a drop in yields this year (right chart).