China's Demand for U.S. Soybeans Growing

CHICAGO, Oct. 19 (UPI) — China’s growing middle class has created a soaring demand for U.S. soybeans, giving farmers a steady consumer base, trade experts said.

“They’ve come on stronger and stronger. Half of the soybeans we grow in this country we export. … Every fourth row we have is now going to China,” Bob Callanan of the American Soybean Association told the St. Louise, Mo., Post-Dispatch.

About 200 million Chinese have joined the middle class in the past 10 years, creating a growing demand for meat, which comes from livestock feed a mixture of corn and soybeans, the newspaper said Monday.

“You’re talking about a country with 1.3 billion people. If each person ate just one more portion of chicken or pork each week, that’s a huge increase in demand,” Callanan said.

“They’re buying more than they normally would, and they’re doing it earlier,” said Darrel Good, an agricultural market specialist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

China has already purchased 12.5 million tons of U.S. soybeans this year, surpassing the 2008 total of 7.7 million tons.

Barring a sudden acceleration to snowy weather, the U.S. crop could reach a near record this year, currently valued at about $10 a bushel, the newspaper said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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