US soybean exports erupt ahead of Brazil’s massive harvest

In the week ended Feb 2, some 1.83 million tonnes of US soybeans were inspected for export, the fourth consecutive week of well above average volumes. — AFP

AFTER a slower start to the season, US soybean exports have taken off over the last month or so even as top exporter Brazil is in the early stages of collecting its record harvest.

In the week ended Feb 2, some 1.83 million tonnes of US soybeans were inspected for export, the fourth consecutive week of well above average volumes.

Export inspections, a proxy for actual exports, totalled a preliminary 8.2 million tonnes in January 2023 compared with 6.5 million a year ago and 8.9 million in January 2021.

January 2021 holds the month’s official export record of 9.03 million tonnes according to the US Census Bureau, and last month is likely to come in second place.

January 2022 soy shipments totalled 6.4 million tonnes, a couple of cargoes above the five-year average.

Last month’s exports followed a decent December showing with US soy inspections of 8.07 million tonnes, up 4% on the year and possibly good for the month’s second-best performance after 2020. Official December data was published yesterday.

US soy export sales were decent last month as Brazilian farmers have been stingy sellers of their huge impending harvest.

In the last couple of weeks, rains have delayed the Brazilian harvest to only 9% or 10% complete as of this weekend compared with as much as 20% a year ago.

Slower progress

Heavier rains in the next week may keep progress slower in Brazil’s central soy belt, though a drier trend to the north and south could accelerate activity there.

However, the rainy weather has increased both soy rust cases and fungicide bills, and those unexpectedly higher costs could potentially encourage Brazilian farmers to continue hoarding crops.

Even if US soybean sales die down, overall bookings are heavy enough to support at least moderate bean shipments in the near term, especially amid weaker corn volumes.

Some 11.7 million tonnes of US beans sold for export for 2022- 2023 were unshipped as of Jan 26, among the most ever for the date.

About 75% of all soy commitments had been shipped as of Jan 26 versus 80% or better in the last three years.

Trade estimates ahead of the US Department of Agriculture’s yesterday supply and demand report suggest analysts are mostly content with the agency’s latest forecast for 2022 to 2023 US soybean exports of 1.99 billion bushels (54.2 million tonnes).

US soybean ending stocks on average are pegged at 211 million bushels, essentially unchanged from USDA’s January outlook of 210 million.

Of the 19 analysts polled, four see stocks lower than last month, six see them higher, and the rest are unchanged or within a few million. — Reuters

Karen Braun is a market analyst for Reuters. The views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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US , soybean , exports , soyinspections , Brazil , harvest , USDA , weather


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