China says no need for panic buying of food and oil


By Hallie Gu and Tom Daly

BEIJING, Aug 26 (Reuters) - China's food supplies remain stable and consumers should not be "overly anxious" or even resort to "panic buying", a senior agriculture ministry official said on Wednesday, following recent uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, farmers and traders should prevent food waste caused by improper storage, while farmers who stockpile in the hope of later gains should be wary that prices could turn against them, ministry official Tang Ke told a briefing.

President Xi Jinping raised the issue of food security earlier this month when he spoke about "shameful" food wastage, while a government think tank has warned about a looming food supply gap by 2025.

Tang said the coronavirus pandemic has increased uncertainty in both domestic and foreign markets for agricultural products.

During the first half of the year when China was hit by the coronavirus epidemic, it had sufficient grain reserves and strong processing capacity, along with market regulation and a developed logistics distribution system, he said.

In the absence of major disasters, China was set for a bumper year for grains, he added.

Tang also said soybean imports were expected to rise in the second half of 2020.

The world's top soybean buyer brought in 8.18 million tonnes of the oilseed from Brazil in July on good margins but bought only 38,331 tonnes of soybeans from the United States. It is expected to buy more from the U.S. in the rest of the year.

Top U.S. and Chinese trade officials reaffirmed their commitment to a Phase 1 trade deal, which has seen China lagging on its obligations to buy American goods.

(Reporting by Hallie Gu and Tom Daly in Beijing; Writing by Shivani Singh; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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