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A Wheat Warning from China

Andrew Peaple
February 27, 2011
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Global food prices hardly need another reason to rise. But talk that China may have to increase wheat imports again this year due to poor harvests has added to market jitters, with wheat prices this month around 2½-year highs. Like so many other commodity markets, those for grains may have to get used to a hungry dragon.

Some perspective is needed. China's wheat imports rose to 1.4 million tons in the year ending June 2010, according to the International Grain Council, up 260% from a year earlier. Corn imports could jump fourfold this year, it forecasts. Dramatic that may seem, but China still only accounts for 1% to 2% of total world imports of both commodities. By contrast, its imports account for 60% of global trade in soy beans.

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