USDA Likely To Raise Soy Exports Again

USDA raised its projection of U.S. 2002-2003 soybean exports another 35 million bushels Thursday, but continued strong U.S. export sales suggested that it was still underestimating demand.

Stronger-than-expected export sales of 23.1 million bushels for the week ended April 3 took 2002-2003 soybean export commitments to within 11 million bushels of the new USDA projection with over 21 weeks remaining in the marketing year.

USDA on Thursday pegged U.S. soybean exports at 995 million bushels. At the current pace, U.S. soybean sales for 2002-2003 will top 1.1 billion bushels and actual shipments will reach 1.088 billion bushels, surpassing last year’s record of 1.061 billion.

The odds the record export pace can be maintained are extremely low due to tightening U.S. supplies and massive South American production.

But as it remains uncertain exactly when U.S. sales will fall off, so it seems a safe bet that exports will surpass 1 billion bushels.

Chinese demand remains the driving force behind the strong U.S. export sales. USDA Thursday raised its estimate of China’s total 2002-2003 soybean exports by 500,000 metric tons to 16.5 million tons (606.2 million bushels). Most of those sales have already been shipped.

Thursday’s weekly export sales report showed that China continued to purchase U.S. soybeans, buying another 70,300 metric tons on the week. China has already bought over 7.6 million tons (279.2 million bushels) of U.S. soybeans for 2002-2003 shipment.

However, it was strong demand from Mexico that drove weekly sales above expectations as that country purchased 232,000 tons of U.S. soybeans on the week.

Editors note: Richard Brock, The Corn and Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.