According to Federal Grain Inspections Service (FGIS) data, 19.794 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans have been inspected for export between September 1st and December 19th. This is up 24.4% from 15.913 million tonnes shipped over the same period last year. The greatest driver in year-over-year growth has been the resumption of shipments of U.S. soybeans to China. U.S. soybean shipments were paused for much of the 2018/19 marketing year. This has changed, however, with the most recent allowance of import quotas totaling nearly 10 million tonnes as trade talks have progressed.

According to the latest FGIS inspections data, shipments of U.S. soybeans to China thus far in the 2019/20 marketing year have totaled 8.654 million tonnes or 43.7% of cumulative shipments. The following chart shows the percentage breakdown for the top ten largest destinations for U.S. soybeans thus far in the 2019/20 marketing year, along with a grouping of the remaining other destinations. Along with China are Mexico, the Netherlands and Egypt, all of which have topped the 1.0-million-tonne mark thus far in the 2019/20 marketing year.

The same pie chart for U.S. soybean export inspections from the beginning of the 2018/19 marketing year to December 20th, 2018, which showed a more consistent breakdown amongst the top destinations as Argentina, Spain, the Netherlands and Mexico all had totaled more than 1.0 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans.

While the return of U.S. soybean shipments to China has certainly changed the landscape of the U.S. soybean export program, the list of the largest buyers through the first quarter of the marketing year remains diverse with destinations in southeast Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) currently forecasts for U.S. soybean supplies to remain ample by the end of the 2019/20 campaign at 12.923 million tonnes. Stocks back below 15 million tonnes would be a far cry from burdensome levels of 24.849 million experienced in 2018/19, but would remain ample when compared with levels near 5 million as recently as 2015/16. This suggests that stocks would be remain ample even should there be some incremental increases to current U.S. export ideas prompted by potentially greater shipments to both China and non-Chinese destinations.