For the 2018/19 marketing year, Chinese soybean utilization for domestic crushing and exports is projected at 4.2 billion bushels. Global soybean production for the marketing year is projected at 13.2 billion bushels, meaning China is expected to use the equivalent of nearly one-third of every acre of soybeans harvested in the world. Based on average soybean yields of 41 to 48 bushels per acre, China’s soybean utilization represents 87 to 102 million acres worldwide – equivalent to or greater than total U.S. soybean acreage.
Since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, its role in the soybean complex has expanded considerably. During the 2001/02 marketing year, China used 15 percent of global soybean production and Chinese imports represented 19 percent of world soybean trade. Now, in 2018, not only does China use one-third of every acre, but its imports represent 62 percent of global soybean trade. For the 2018/19 marketing year, the Agriculture Department projects Chinese soybean imports at 3.5 billion bushels, and global soybean trade at 5.7 billion to 5.8 billion bushels. Chinese soybean imports are up 815 percent since joining the WTO.