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Country Briefs

  China

Reference Date: 09-January-2018

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Favourable weather conditions benefitted planting of 2018 winter wheat crop

  2. Above-average cereal production obtained in 2017

  3. Cereal imports in 2017/18 forecast close to average

  4. Prices of rice and wheat stable in recent months

Wheat area in 2018 estimated close to last year’s average level

Sowing of the 2018 winter wheat crop, which accounts for about 95 percent of the total wheat production, was completed in October and harvest is expected to start in May. During sowing, weather conditions have been generally favourable in the main producing areas located in the eastern and central parts of the country, allowing timely land preparation and planting. However, some areas of the important wheat producing provinces of Anhui, Henan, Hubei and Jiangsu, located in the eastern parts of the country, experienced slightly below-average rains since the start of the season. Overall, as of late December 2017, local reports indicated that wheat crop conditions and soil moisture were generally near normal over most of the country. The total area planted to wheat in 2018 is estimated to remain close to last year’s average level, reflecting the still attractive margins earned by wheat producers despite a 2.5 percent reduction in the minimum state purchase price for the 2018 wheat crop.

Above-average cereal production in 2017

The 2017 aggregate cereal production is estimated at 564.3 million tonnes, close to the previous year’s above-average level.

Disaggregated by crops, maize output in 2017 is officially estimated at 215.9 million tonnes, showing a slight decrease for the second consecutive year, but it still remained close to the average levels. Recent decreases in maize output are mainly driven by area the contractions as farmers prefer to plant more profitable crops, in particular soybeans, in response to the Government’s decision to lower the maize procurement price. The 2017 rice output is officially estimated at 208.6 million tonnes, 1.5 million tonnes above last year’s good level and close to the 2015 record. Similarly, wheat production in 2017 is estimated at a near-record level of 129.8 million tonnes, mostly reflecting record yields supported by favourable weather conditions.

Cereal imports in 2017/18 forecast close to five-year average

Total cereal imports in the 2017/18 marketing year are currently forecast at 24.1 million tonnes, a third decline since the record level reached in 2014/15, but remain close to the five-year average. Imports of wheat are forecast at 3.5 million tonnes, a decline of almost 20 percent from last year’s high level, due to high stock quantities obtained from successive bumper harvests. Imports for feed cereals are forecast to return to average, after the exceptional high levels between 2014/15 and 2015/16, due to expectations of the much larger use of domestic maize for feed and industrial processing in view of the Government’s plan to cut domestic inventories. Rice imports are expected to remain close to the five-year average level at 5.8 million tonnes, given persistently more profitable prices in other major origins in Asia compared with local quotations.

Prices of rice and wheat stable in recent months

Retail prices of Japonica rice and wheat flour, the major food crops, were generally stable in the previous months reflecting abundant market supplies from the bumper outputs in 2017.

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