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China's ‘State Secret’ Crop Data May Be Released By End of Year

Although China has reliably for released data regarding grain production and consumption in the past, the release of official Chinese grain inventory data has been prevented by legislation, as it is considered a ‘state secret’.

The informational void left by the lack of this knowledge has created an uncertainty in world market prices and has left investors without key facts when making decisions.

Global crop data officials from the Agricultural Market information System (AMIS), an inter-agency platform designed to increase transparency in global food markets, and members of the International Grains Council and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are meeting with Chinese peers to discuss China releasing the country’s official grain stock data, and are hopeful that they may be successful in gaining access to these figures by the end of this year.

China’s State Administration of Grain vice administrator, Lu Jing Bo, stated that corn inventories have reached record levels but refused to release firm inventory numbers. He also stated that Chinese corn production and consumption were rising rapidly driven by animal feed and industrial uses.

This cloudy information is leading to large gaps between different global agency’s world grain stock estimates, which range from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) estimate of 192 million tons to an estimate of 219 million tons by the UN FAO. The lack of solid inventory information is also making estimates difficult regarding China’s consumption of feed ingredients. Although China has relaxed its policies to a degree on the release of soybean and cotton stock data, hopefully these talks will bring the same for grain inventory figures.

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