China has replaced Egypt as the world’s biggest wheat buyer as it eyes increasing food security, with plans to carry out its biggest wheat importing program in more than 25 years this year. The recent USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates revealed the Asian superpower’s wheat imports were forecast to hit 12 million tonnes this year, its biggest total since 1995-96 when it imported 12.5 million. The figure is up 2 million tonnes on last year’s import program, with Australian wheat expected to make up the lion’s share. The report revealed China was the dominant wheat player in virtually every metric except exports and it also held more than half of all surplus wheat in the world, at 52 per cent. Australian wheat remains “especially competitive” into China, after three years of consecutive record crops. “China continues to aggressively purchase Australian wheat supplies, with July-February imports up 66 percent compared to the previous year,” the report noted. China has been vacuuming up Australian wheat despite simmering trade disputes still in place across other agricultural commodities, last year overtaking Indonesia as Australia’s biggest wheat customer. China accounted for 22.2 per cent of Australian wheat exports in the 2021-22 grain marketing year, which ended on September 30. In the months since, more than 2.4 million tonnes of wheat — of all specifications — has been exported to China for milling and feed use. Comparatively, nearby Indonesia accounted for 13.7 per cent in 2021-22 as growth in its buoyant flour mill industry slowed. WA Premier Mark McGowan this week expressed his confidence trade tensions with China will “be resolved” and tariff on Australian exports removed after visiting Beijing. Beijing imposed tariffs on Australian exports in 2020 in the wake of the Morrison Government’s calls for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this month, however, Australia and China agreed on a path forward to end tensions over Barley exports. It came after a warming of diplomatic ties began in November when Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali.