China’s Protein Demand Pushes Corn to New Highs, Lifts Wheat Consumption

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Surging demand for feed grains in China has driven the market into uncharted territory, and is beginning to affect the global market for grains used for human consumption, especially wheat.

China’s demand for feed corn, and hence corn imports, can be moderated to some degree by substituting other grains, such as wheat. However, doing so would put China in greater competition with other major importers of wheat worldwide.    

Corn futures in China have hit all time highs, of over 2600 RMB/tonne. Physical corn is now trading at a premium of 39 RMB/tonne over wheat, after starting the year 477 RMB/tonne below wheat and reaching parity a month ago. As a result, wheat has begun to be bought for animal feed. 

Corn and rice prices also are on par, with rice trading only 1 RMB/tonne over corn, raising the possibility that rice may soon be used for animal feed. 

Click here to View China’s corn, wheat, and rice prices

Corn stocks in China are currently tight. The USDA estimates China has a stocks-to-usage ratio of 67% in the 2020/2021 marketing year, but Gro estimates indicate significantly lower amounts of corn in storage. 

Imports of many grains have surged. From January to September of this year, China has imported 6.7 million tonnes of corn (up 72% from a year earlier), 5.8 million tonnes of wheat (up 187%), and 3.5 million tonnes of sorghum (up 467%).

Gro’s library of China data is available exclusively to its API enterprise clients. 

This insight was powered by the Gro platform, which enables better and faster decisions about factors affecting the entire global agricultural ecosystem. Gro organizes over 40,000 datasets from sources around the world into a unified ontology, which allows users to derive valuable insights such as this one. You can explore the data available on Gro with a free account, or please get in touch if you would like to learn more about a specific crop, region, or business issue.

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