China’s corn imports more than doubled in June, reaching the highest in at least a decade, as purchases climbed before a late-month surge in U.S. prices.
Inbound shipments rose to 872,928 metric tons last month from about 404,102 tons in May, data from the General Administration of Customs showed Tuesday. That’s the highest since at least 2005, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The world’s second-biggest corn producer and consumer has increased purchases of some grains in recent months because international supplies are cheaper. Importers used almost all of the country’s quota for deliveries for the second quarter, when local supply is lower, said Cherry Zhang, an analyst at Shanghai JC Intelligence Co. Imports may total 4 million tons this year, the China National Grain & Oils Information Center predicts.
“Chinese companies purchased corn from overseas aggressively as domestic corn is more expensive,” said Nobuyuki Chino, president of Continental Rice Corp. in Tokyo. “The Chinese government is eager to sell corn from state stockpiles, but as its quality is not good and price is high, they have difficulty finding enough buyers.”
Corn futures in Chicago were only 2.1 percent higher from the end of May through June 19 before a late-month surge. Prices climbed 18 percent in the final week-and-a-half of the month as U.S. crop conditions deteriorated. That price jump may curb China’s imports this month, according to Chino.
Imports in June 2014 were only 27,330 tons, data show. Chinese corn purchases declined about 20 percent last year as the country turned away some cargoes found to contain unapproved traits, including an insect-repelling variety developed by Syngenta AG.