Based on USDA’s crop estimates, the 2021 soybean crop could easily set a record. While final numbers won’t be known until next month’s Crop Production Summary, the soybean industry is bullish.
“We are really looking forward to a robust export year coming up for this new crop,” says Karey Claghorn, senior director for international marketing programs for U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC).
China imported roughly 100 million metric tons of soybeans from the U.S. during the 20/21 marketing year. In the last few months, those export sales have slumped. Claghorn says China remains the biggest player, but USSEC has been diversifying markets for U.S. soy.
“Think about Egypt for example—Egypt has grown six times in the last decade or so,” she says. “During the trade war with China, we set out to really expand and diversify many of our markets so now we talk about markets like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Columbia, Vietnam.”
The U.S. is not the only exporter of soy. Brazil exported more than 80 million metric tons in 2020 and are on track to grow in the future. Claghorn says to combat this, the U.S. needs to differentiate their products.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work collecting data, developing tools to share with customers around the world the difference in U.S. soy from other origins—the better nutritional bundle, digestibility, energy, etc.,” she says. “U.S. soy sustainability is really important not only in some of our mature markets, but in our developing markets. Diversification is good, but differentiation is also very important in the marketplace.”