No Relief in Sight for World's Soy Supply Crunch, U.S. Says
Comment of the Day

May 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

No Relief in Sight for World's Soy Supply Crunch, U.S. Says

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“Something has to give,” Scott Irwin, a professor at the University of Illinois said by phone. “Either we have to find more planted acres, we have to get lucky with summer weather, or the price has to go high enough to ration usage lower than projected.”

Crop markets have skyrocketed amid record Chinese demand and rising consumption as economies recover from the pandemic. More evidence of China’s strong appetite for farm commodities emerged this week with further purchases of U.S. corn. Weather concerns persisting in major producers like Brazil also risk further straining global supplies.

The relentless rally across crop markets has stoked worries over rising food bills at a time when many consumers are still struggling from the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. The United Nation’s monthly gauge of global food prices has climbed for 11 straight months.

There is a scenario in which the supply crunch could see some relief.

“If we don’t see a major weather problem from September all the way through June of next year, then we should see maybe new crop prices remain below the average that we’ll probably realize for the current marketing year,” said Terry Reilly, senior commodities analyst at Futures International LLC in Chicago.

Eoin Treacy's view

Soybean supply is dominated by the USA and Brazil. Demand is focused on Chinese consumption and cooking oil demand everywhere. The pandemic hit restaurant demand last year so there were fewer acres planted, and the surge in demand this year has resulted in a supply shortfall. US drought conditions eased over the last week which is good for crops but the Brazilian drought remains ongoing.

Soybean oil hasn’t had an acceleration like this since the run-up to the peak in 2008. A clear downward dynamic will be required to check momentum beyond a pause.

Soybeans are also in rarefied territory and the price was unable to hold its intraday surge today.

Even as news of dire supply shortages make headlines, the sharp pullback in lumber is probably enough to give leveraged traders pause before doubling down on bullish positions in accelerating trends.

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