Soybean Meal Prices Explained
When most commodities show high demand and value in the market, soybean meal prices take a different route. From the second quarter of trading in 2022 until the present time, soybean meal prices showed a decline in progress.
Discover the factors that cause this and other underlying elements that can elevate its prices in the future.
Why are soybean meal prices fluctuating?
1. Increased Soybean Production
From late 2020 until the first quarter of 2022, soybean meal prices soared high due to the issues of oilseed supply thanks to the current war between Russia and Ukraine which is a significant contributor to the spiking commodity prices.
This and the US and South American droughts which resulted in low crop yields are the prime reasons for the increased soybean meal prices.
However, the current market outlook shows that soybean production bounces back. Argentina’s ( the fourth largest soybean producer ) improving weather means normal crop production supply in the last trading quarter of this year and in 2024.
Similarly, the United States ( the second largest soybean meal producer ) predicted a marginally higher yield this year and in 2024 since its farmers don’t suffer much of the 2023 summer heat.
Additionally, USDA predicted a 5% increase in Brazilian soybean meal production due to the country’s improving farming conditions.
Overall, this improved soybean production and supply are a great offset from last year’s record however, these may cause a supply surplus which directly affects soybean meal prices.
2. Weaker Demand from China
China is the world’s largest importer of soybeans accounting for about 60% of global soybean trade.
However, China’s demand for soybeans weakens due to a decline in hog production. Hog prices in China have fallen sharply since the beginning of the year due to a number of factors such as African Swine Fever ( ASF ) and the COVID-19 pandemic.
USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) observes that ASF has become endemic in the country which increases hog production costs.
In response, hog growers switch to growing other low-production animals such as chicken and cattle.
This factor and the country’s current economic deflation significantly impact global trade, particularly soybean meal prices.
3. Strengthening of the US Dollar
The US dollar has been strengthening against other currencies in recent months which makes soybeans more expensive for buyers in other countries.
This is because soybeans are priced in US dollars, so when the dollar strengthens, it makes soybeans more expensive for buyers who use other currencies.
4. Growing Demand for Protein-Rich Food for Humans and Animals
While factors seem headwinds for soybean meal marketability, the need for a sustainable food supply will slowly make up for its prices in the future.
Soybean’s high protein properties make it a useful component in the animal feed and human food industries. This is due to the health benefits associated with this protein-enriched food and the increasing population.
With the price of rice spiking, food experts eye soybean meal as a good alternative for human consumption.
Thus, this initiative will likely fuel soybean meal prices in the future.
Which variables impact the price of soybean meal?
- Increased Soybean Production
- Weaker Demand from China
- Strengthening of the US Dollar
- Growing Demand for Protein-Rich Food for Humans and Animals
- Government Policies
Where does soybean meal come from?
Soybean meal is a high-protein byproduct of soybean oil extraction. It is a major feed ingredient for livestock and poultry. Additionally, it is used in other products such as tofu, tempeh, and soymilk.
Our World in Data’s record shows that three-quarters of global soy production ( 77% ) is fed to livestock for meat and dairy production.
The USA started using soybean meal in their livestock and poultry in the mid-1930s.
Forty years later, soybean feed production increased due to the expansion of agriculture and aquaculture businesses and in the early 1990s, it accelerated due to a growing demand from developing countries.
Methods of Making Soybean Meal
These are two main methods of making soybean meal:
1. Mechanical Extraction
The older and simpler method.
It involves crushing soybeans and pressing them to remove the oil. The leftover meal is ground into a fine powder. Mechanically extracted soybean meal typically contains about 48% protein.
2. Solvent Extraction
A much more modern and efficient method.
It involves using a solvent such as hexane to dissolve the oil from the soybeans.
The solvent is evaporated, leaving behind the soybean meal. Solvent-extracted soybean meal typically contains about 50% protein.
The finished output mainly comes from these top producing countries such as China, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, and the European Union.
What is the future price and season of soybean meal?
The soybean meal season in a particular country depends on its harvest season.
China and the USA share similar soybean meal seasons which start from September to December, with October to December as the harvesting seasons.
The third largest soybean producer, Brazil, starts their soybean planting season in summer ( January ) and in fall ( April ) is the harvest season.
Argentina’s summer ( February ) is its sowing season and its fall ( May ) is the soybean harvest season.
Indians plant their soybean during the rainy season in June and July; and harvest it from September to October.
Overall, the soybean meal market outlook remains positive despite its decreasing value.
The increasing production of biofuel still tops as its price driver in the coming years. However, some underlying factors are likely to show since global rice production is quite shaky.
Thus, market analysts projected a price estimation of $450 per metric ton by 2030, an 11.11% increase from its current trading price.