China says corn output to grow, after fears of shortfall drive prices

BEIJING, Oct 15 (Reuters) - China's agriculture ministry said on Thursday that the country's corn planting acreage had remained "basically stable" this year and annual output was set to increase despite the northeastern cornbelt being hit by three typhoons in recent weeks.

The ministry's comments, attributed to an unnamed official, came after Chinese corn futures hit a record high of 2,595 yuan ($385.75) a tonne on Wednesday as investors bet that crop damage and a recent selldown of state reserves could leave the market short.

"In late August and early September, the northeastern production area suffered three consecutive typhoons," said the official from the market and information department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Corn yields in most of these areas were unaffected, however, the official said, adding that total corn output was expected to rise this year.

As more corn from producing areas comes on to the market and imported corn and corn substitutes reach Chinese ports, the supply tightness will ease, the official said, expecting prices to remain stable or fall back slightly in the short term.

Further seeking to calm food security fears, the official said China's wheat and rice inventories both exceeded a year's worth of consumption and supply was "fully guaranteed".

Physical wheat prices in Shandong province's Heze city <W-EXWHDN-GEN> are up almost 4% so far this year.

Edible oil supply is also ensured, in part because China kept up purchases of U.S. soybeans this year, the official added.

The ministry does not expect a big fluctuation in pork prices in the fourth quarter as pig production continues to recover from a series of African swine fever outbreaks that decimated China's hog herd from 2018, while frozen pork imports will supplement supply, the official said.

($1 = 6.7272 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Hallie Gu and Tom Daly; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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