BEIJING, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Soybean crushers in China’s Shandong province have suspended some operations due to port delays that are holding up import cargoes of the oilseed, and amid pressure from high soymeal stocks, industry portal Cofeed reported on Thursday.
The cuts, though short term and with some plants already restarted, boosted soymeal prices and crushing margins, easing pressure on the market from a growing glut of meal.
Soymeal prices in Rizhao SM-EXFRZH-STD - the main import hub for Shandong province, China’s top crushing region - are up nearly 5 percent from last week, hitting their highest since early May.
Crushers in Shandong now make about 40 yuan ($6.01) for each tonne of soybean processed CNSOY-RZO-MRG, after losing money on each tonne for most of the last six months.
But margins are still under pressure due to high meal stocks and ample supplies from overseas, analysts said.
“Impact on the market (from the suspensions) would be limited as soymeal stocks are quite ample,” said Yu Yang, an analyst with Shandong-based commodities consultancy Zhuochuang.
Two major crushers in Rizhao will suspend operation for five days from Thursday, Cofeed (www.cofeed.com) reported.
The two plants, Rizhao Xinbang Cereals Oils and Bunge Sanwei Oil & Fat, both run by U.S. agribusiness firm Bunge Ltd, account for around 6,000 tonnes of daily crushing capacity.
Bunge did not respond to emails seeking comment, and Reuters was not able to confirm the suspension independently.
“Discharging at (Rizhao) port is very slow, and (the companies’) soymeal storehouses are almost packed,” said Li Lifeng, an analyst with Cofeed.
Shandong Sanwei Oil & Fat Group, another major crusher in the region, had suspended operations at its three plants, but restarted one on Thursday afternoon, said Cofeed’s Li, who has talked with the group.
Shandong Sanwei resumed operation at a plant with 1,500 tonnes of daily crushing capacity, Cofeed said. Two other plants with 6,100 tonnes of daily capacity remained shut.
Shandong Sanwei resold at least three cargoes of soybeans at much below market rates in recent weeks.
Chinatex’s crushing mill in Rizhao, with a daily capacity of 4,000 tonne, suspended operations for three days and reopened shop on Wednesday, according to an analyst and trader.
Rizhao Henglong Agri, a crusher with 3,000 tonnes of daily capacity, was shut for ten days due to a shortage of beans, before returning to production on Thursday, Cofeed reported.
Calls to Chinatex and Rizhao Henglong Agri went unanswered.
Besides high soymeal stocks, new environmental checks mandated by Beijing across eight provinces including Shandong, are also raising worries about possible shutdowns.
$1 = 6.6584 Chinese yuan Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Tom Hogue