South Asia is home to over 1.8 billion people, accounting for nearly 24% of the Earth’s population. This enormous consumer base is becoming more affluent and demanding more protein. Even in the immediate shadows of COVID-19, many countries in the region are still poised for economic growth in 2020. However, despite this resilience, economic headwinds remain. Low productivity and relatively high interest rates tend to act as catalyst for widespread poverty. A staggering 1.4 billion people live on $5.50 or less and the pandemic will only exacerbate extreme poverty to those most vulnerable.
Nevertheless, soy demand is strong as a nascent soy crushing industry has flourished and blossomed into some of the world’s largest whole soybean importers. Both Pakistan and Bangladesh have imported over 1 MMT of U.S. soybeans and are on pace to crush even more as expansion projects demand more feedstock. In 2019, U.S. soy products represented the number one or number two agricultural import in four of the five countries (Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal). In 2018, the region eclipsed $1 billion of U.S. soy imports.
Despite this phenomenal growth, the region still has tremendous potential for U.S. Soy. India alone is home to one of the world’s largest compound animal feed industries, boasting the largest cattle herd in the world and a rapidly accelerating poultry industry, thanks to a new and younger demographic of consumers. Moreover, resources are scarce, as water shortages are becoming a more common site as climate change severely impacts India’s monsoon season. Bangladesh is limited by land availability, as 161 million people crowd into a country the size of the state of Georgia. This makes Bangladesh one of the densest countries on the planet.
Market access issues continue to have a dampening effect in economic prosperity. In India, biotechnology, tariff and phytosanitary barriers inhibit growth for the nation’s livestock and poultry sectors. Nevertheless, in 2020, Bangladesh ruled to eliminate tariffs on soybean meal, in a victory for food security in a post-COVID world.
Together, the demographics, urbanization, resource scarcity and economic growth make South Asia a ripe region for U.S. soy investment.
SOUTH ASIA DIRECTORY
16305 Swingley Ridge Road, Suite 200
Chesterfield, MO 63017