U.S. Soy Growers Look to Demand in Southeast Asia
- General News
With soymeal use trending down in the U.S. over the past decade, from over 3 million metric tons (MMT) in 2004/5 to just past 2.7 MMT in 2014/15 amid fluctuating demand throughout the decade, soy growers are looking beyond their shores towards markets with strong growth potential, particularly Asia.
Overall long-term weaker U.S. demand contrasts with the increase in global meal consumption and rise in U.S. exports of meal and beans as a share of total production, shared USSEC consultant John Baize, President of John C. Baize and Associates, at the 9th Asia Grain Transportation Conference in Singapore.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Agricultural Attaché for Singapore and Malaysia Chris Rittgers highlighted the strategic importance of the Southeast Asia region for U.S. agricultural exports. U.S. Soy and grain exports to Southeast Asia have more than doubled in the past decade. From barely 5 MMT in total for wheat, soybeans, soymeal, corn and by-products exports in 2004, export volume has reached over 12 MMT in 2014. Soymeal exports in particular increased four-fold from half a MMT to over 2 MMT over that period; today, Southeast Asia is the second largest importer of soymeal after the EU. By-products also recorded strong growth in that period, rising to more than five times the 0.32 MMT to 1.76 MMT, based on the latest USDA-FAS figures.
Strong macroeconomic factors underpin the region’s growth, said Pawan Kumar, Associate Director for Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory at Rabobank Singapore. With nine percent of the world’s population, or a population of 750 million by 2040, the region is seeing income and gross domestic product (GDP) growth and a young demographic and urbanization trend pushing up demand for feed and quality meat products. Given the region’s production constraints as high population densities put pressure on available arable land, trade with the region is set to flourish.
Providing a perspective from two of Asia’s giants were USSEC India’s Director for Animal, Aquaculture and Soymeal program P. E. Vijay Anand and Zhang Xiaoping, USSEC Country Director - China. Dr. Anand discussed soy dynamics in the Asian subcontinent, looking at shifting patterns of production and consumption in India, as well as utilization trends among countries in the Asia subcontinent—Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan—that traditionally rely on Indian soymeal. Mr. Zhang provided an overview of the factors that drove China from self-sufficiency in soy to an import-dependent status starting from the mid-90s to present day, and the burgeoning appetites for soybean imports in the Chinese market.
The Grain Transportation Conference is an annual customer focus event organized by USSEC Southeast Asia, together with the U.S. Grains Council and USDA-FAS. This year’s event was held in Singapore from March 23 to 26.