China can reduce its soybean demand by 30 million tonnes by continuing to promote lower soymeal rations in feed and using alternative proteins, the official Xinhua news agency said recently, citing unnamed agriculture officials. China issued guidelines last year recommending the reduction of soymeal and corn in pig and poultry feed, as it sought to reduce its dependence on imported grains.
China imports almost 100 million tonnes of soybeans each year to make protein-rich soymeal for its huge livestock sector. The portion of soymeal in feed dropped to an average 15.3% last year, down 2.4 percentage points compared with 2020, said Xinhua.
Among the top 33 feed companies, soymeal rations averaged 11.8%, a decrease of 1.6 percentage points from the previous year.
China could lower soymeal use by another 23 million tonnes, reducing its soybean needs by almost 30 million tonnes if it continues to promote low-protein livestock diets, added the report.
Feed makers can increase the use of amino acids and alternative grains to substitute soymeal, while more forage consumption could replace soymeal in feed for cattle and sheep, it said. China has said boosting soybean production will be a “major political task” this year, after output of the oilseed fell in 2021 as farmers planted more corn instead.