GIEWS Country Brief: China 11-March-2022



  • Area planted with 2022 winter wheat estimated at above-average level
  • Cereal production above average in 2021
  • Cereal imports in 2021/22 well above average
  • Domestic maize and wheat grain prices at high levels in 2021 due to strong feed demand

Area planted with 2022 winter wheat estimated at above-average level

Planting of the 2022 main winter wheat crop, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the annual wheat production, was completed last October and the harvest is expected to start in May. The area planted is estimated to be at an above-average level. Abundant rains in September caused floods in parts of the main wheat producing areas located in North China Plain and central provinces, delayed panting activities by about two weeks. Weather conditions improved from October onwards, allowing planting operations to pick up and supported germinating crops. Currently, the wheat crop is mostly in jointing stages of development in northern and central parts of the country, while it is at heading stages in southern areas. According to field assessment reports, as of early March 2022, wheat crop conditions and soil moisture were near average in the main producing areas. The minor 2022 spring wheat crop will be planted from March onwards.

Cereal production above average in 2021

The 2021 cropping season was concluded last November. Aggregate cereal production is estimated at an above-average level of 632 million tonnes, mostly due to an increase in production of maize and wheat, reflecting an expansion in area planted, mostly prompted by high national prices.

Cereal imports in 2021/22 well above average

Total cereal imports in the 2021/22 marketing year are forecast at about 58.5 million tonnes, well above their last five-year average, but almost 10 percent below the unpreceded high level of the 2020/21 marketing year. The large level of imports reflect higher demand for feed crops, driven by the recovery in domestic pork production after the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks in 2018 and 2019 and the strong growth of the poultry, dairy and starch sectors. Imports of maize, mostly for feed, are forecast at a near-record level of 23.5 million tonnes in the 2021/22 marketing year (October/September). Similarly, imports of other feed crops, namely barley and sorghum, are forecast at the high level of 10.3 and 10 million tonnes, respectively. Growing demand by the feed industry is also expected to result in an increase in wheat grain imports, set to reach 9.5 million tonnes, more than 70 percent above the five-year average, as wheat is often used as a substitute of maize. Imports of rice in the 2022 calendar year are forecast at 4.5 million tonnes, 12 percent below the 2021 level.

Domestic maize and wheat grain prices at high level in 2021 due to strong feed demand

Prices of maize increased sharply throughout 2020 and during the first months of 2021, reaching record levels in March, due to the strong growth in demand from the feed sector. Then, prices slightly decreased until October 2021 due to the arrival on markets of the 2021 main season harvest, but started to rise again in November.

Domestic prices of wheat have been generally increasing since mid-2020, supported by strong demand for food and feed consumption. In January 2022, wheat grain and wheat flour prices were at record or near-record levels in most markets.

Domestic prices of Indica and Japonica rice have been generally stable throughout 2021, reflecting good market availabilities from the 2021 harvests.

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