Soybean Rollercoaster: Chicago’s October Price Swings


Chicago soybean prices experienced significant fluctuations during the second week of October, impacting both farmers and investors. This update provides an overview of recent events, including the USDA report’s influence, the current state of the harvest in the United States, and Chinese soy imports. The findings from the Central for International Economics and Agricultural Market Studies (CEEMA) indicate that soy futures prices in Chicago fluctuated greatly throughout the week.

On November 11th, the price of a bushel dropped significantly to $12.52 USD. However, on October 12th, soybean prices surged in response to the release of the USDA’s updated supply and demand report, reaching $12.90 per bushel, up from $12.80 the previous week.

The USDA report indicated optimistic expectations for the soy market, as it reduced the final U.S. production estimate by an additional million metric tons to 111.7 million. The United States maintained its final reserves for the 2023/24 crop year at 6 million metric tons. Globally, output was projected to be approximately 399.5 million tons, with final global stocks decreasing to 115.6 million tons, a decline of nearly four million tons from September. Brazil maintained its production estimate at 163 million tons annually, while Argentina’s output remained steady at 48 million tons. China’s soy imports remained unchanged from the previous year, staying at 100 million tons. The average price paid by U.S. farmers for a bushel of soy this year was $12.90, which remained unchanged from September but was lower than the predicted $14.20 for 2022/23.

According to the CEEMA report, the United States had a soy harvest progress of 43% in October, surpassing the historical average of 37%. The condition of the harvest ranged from 51% rated as good to excellent to 31% rated as regular and 18% rated as poor to very poor.

Moving on to Chinese soybean imports, China reported a decrease of 7.3% in soy product imports in September compared to the same month the previous year, with a total volume of 7.15 million metric tons. This decline was attributed to high stockpiles in the country and the recent increase in international soy prices. However, after Brazil’s record harvest resulted in reduced prices, Chinese demand for Brazilian soy rose significantly. According to customs data, total Chinese soy imports increased by 14.4% year-over-year to 77.8 million metric tons during the first nine months of the year.

In conclusion, the second week of October was marked by significant price fluctuations in the Chicago soy market, impacting farmers and investors. The USDA report, the state of the U.S. harvest, and Chinese soy imports were key factors influencing these fluctuations. While the soy market in the United States showed promise, it will be essential to closely monitor global factors that could influence prices in the coming months.