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China grain traders seek new data sources after key supplier suspension

BEIJING (Reuters) – The inexplicable shutdown of a major Chinese agricultural data provider is leading traders, analysts and brokerages to frantically seek new sources of information in one of the world’s largest grain and oilseed markets.

Cofeed, a private consultancy in Beijing that has been in business for more than 20 years, had emerged for agricultural markets as one of the most extensive providers of information on grain supplies – including soybeans – in China.

The firm stopped updating data on its website and client information emails on April 29, without offering explanations. China is the world’s largest oilseed importer.

“It’s really a problem,” said Darin Friedrichs, senior Asia commodities analyst at Shanghai-based brokerage StoneX Group.

“Their figures were taken as de facto estimates of the arrivals (of soybeans). I’m still looking for where to find that information,” he said.

Cofeed’s data on soybean and soybean meal inventories, processing margins, operating rates at soybean plants, shipment arrivals, premiums, and prices in different regions were especially valuable to the industry.

China spent around $ 40 billion to import 100 million tons of soybeans in 2020, 60% of the world’s traded volume, and the speed at which it grinds beans into flour and changes in its commercial stocks are crucial to global prices.

China also emerged as the top corn importer for the first time last year, raising the need among global grain exporters for more information to assess demand.

“The whole market was using his data,” said a China-based soybean trader from an international brokerage. “Now we have to call everyone to get the information, it takes time,” he said.

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Cofeed collected information from 50 cities across the country, according to a description of its data on Eikon, the platform run by financial data firm Refinitiv, compiling numbers provided by the crushers on daily processing volumes.

Thomson Reuters, the parent company of Reuters News, has a 15% stake in the London Stock Exchange Group, which completed its purchase of Refinitiv in January.

(Reporting by Dominique Patton in Beijing. Additional reporting by Shivani Singh, Emily Chow and Colin Packham. Edited in Spanish by Marion Giraldo)

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