Bird Flu Seen by Zhongda Futures Curbing Soybean Demand in China

Jan 30, 2014 12:40 am ET

Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Demand for soybeans in China, the world’s biggest buyer of the oilseed, may slow as poultry farmers reduce bird inventories as the H7N9 virus spreads, according to Zhejiang Zhongda Futures Co.

As the reported cases of people sickened by the flu spread in the next two to three months, more consumers may shun poultry products, increasing damage to the farming industry, Lin Shengshan, a Wenzhou-based analyst at the brokerage, said by telephone today.

Sales of white-feather chicken in China fell by a third after the recent outbreaks and some cities have shut live poultry markets, the Ministry of Agriculture said yesterday. China’s purchases of soybeans helped curb losses in prices amid record global output. The oilseed fell 14 percent in Chicago over the past 12 months while corn plunged 42 percent.

“The flu season will be with us for a few more months,” said Lin. “Until now, demand for chicken for holiday feasts has cushioned the losses. Over the next few months, soybean demand will be greatly reduced.”

Lunar New Year holidays in China begin tomorrow and continue until Feb. 6.

Soybeans for March delivery on the Chicago Board of Trade fell 0.2 percent to $12.6675 a bushel at 12:26 p.m. Beijing time. The soymeal contract on Dalian Commodity Exchange lost 0.2 percent to 3,301 yuan ($545) a metric ton.

China’s soybean imports last month jumped 26 percent from a year ago to a record 7.4 million tons, according to customs data. Full-year 2013 shipments rose 8.6 percent to 63.4 million tons, data show.

Some poultry producers have reported a 30 percent drop in feed demand, said Tommy Xiao, Shanghai-based analyst at Shanghai JC Intelligence Co.

China’s poultry industry has had losses of 20 billion yuan because of recent cases of H7N9 bird flu, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

The total number of human infections this year was 96, Xinhua reported on Jan. 27, citing the Chinese Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

--Editors: Brett Miller, Ovais Subhani