Food safety prompts China to reduce use of soybean meal in animal feed

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO. Workers work near a truck unloading harvested soybeans at a farm in Chipping County, Shandong Province, China. October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

By Dominic Patton

BEIJING, Reuters – China’s agriculture ministry on Friday released a three-year action plan to reduce the use of soybean meal in animal feed in an effort to reduce its heavy reliance on soybean imports.

The new plan proposes that the share of soybean meal in animal feed be reduced to 13% by 2025, down from 14.5% in 2022.

The authorities of the world’s main importer of soybeans have already published guidelines for its animal feed industry in 2021, where they recommended reducing the proportion of soybean meal.

The new plan “will direct the feed industry to reduce the amount of soybean meal, promote the conservation and consumption of feed grains and help ensure a stable and secure supply of grain and important agricultural products,” according to a document released by the ministry. agriculture and rural issues.

The new target of less than 13% for 2025 is slightly lower than the previous one of 13.5%, but the direction is not new, said Leif Chiang, chief analyst at Rabobank.

“It’s about building a supply chain that is more resilient to geopolitical risks,” he added.

China buys more than 60% of the world’s soybeans, more than 90 million tons per year, mainly from the United States and Brazil.

“On the one hand, they would like to reduce the absolute volume of soybean imports, but at the same time, as a coincidence, they want to diversify and further reduce their dependence, especially on the US,” Chiang added.

So far, lobbying to reduce the use of soybean meal has been successful, largely due to rising prices of this protein-rich ingredient in recent years, which has prompted feed manufacturers to reduce their use.

Rabobank estimated in January that the ratio could fall to 12% by 2030, which would reduce Chinese soybean imports to 84 million tonnes. This year, the import will be around 95 million tons, Chiang said.

China will also approve up to 2 microbial proteins for feed by 2025 and implement pilot projects to use food scraps and dead animals in more than 20 large and medium-sized cities, according to the plan.

It is also proposed to increase the production of high-quality forage to 98 million tons by 2025, which will allow forage to take a larger share in the feed of dairy and beef cattle.

(Reporting by Dominic Patton Editing in Spanish by Benjamin Mejias Valencia)

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