Soy is one of the main oilseed and protein foods.
Soybeans are grown in East Asia as a food crop, and in western agriculture as a source of oil and protein.
Major suppliers of soybean oil
Although the United States and Brazil are major soybean producers, China is the global leader in soybean oil production. The annual volume of imports of this country amounted to 92 million tons per year.
Today, Argentina is also the largest global exporter of soybean oil. The main suppliers of soybean oil within the EU are Spain, the Netherlands and Germany; these countries are leaders in terms of soybean processing.
Soybean oil leads the global oilseed market. It can be cold pressed, unrefined and refined. The first cold-pressed soybean oil is considered the most beneficial for the body, since most useful substances are stored in it. It has a yellow-straw color and has a rather peculiar aroma and taste. Unrefined soybean oil also contains most of the nutrients. It is used in its raw form, but it is impossible to fry on it. In this form, the oil forms carcinogens.
Refined soybean oil has a pleasant taste and is odorless. It is also used raw.
Soybean Oil Import Trend
In March 2020, after a coronavirus, the global economy was seized by a severe crisis. From the very beginning of quarantine, in many countries there was an increase in demand for products, but after a few weeks, trade volumes decreased, which affected the vegetable oil market.
At the same time, in the USA, these processes did not affect the growth of soybean oil prices. The country has played into the hands of restrictions on transport in Argentina – one of the world leaders in the export of this product. Subsequently, this competition decreased, and the United States managed to strengthen its position in the soybean oil trade. Prices for it also strengthened subsequently by the high demand of importers for the purchase of this product.
So, sales of American soybean oil increased in February 2020. South Korea, Egypt and Colombia actively imported this product. The same processes were observed in early spring.
As for Europe, during 2014-2018, the largest importers among the countries were Poland (19%), Denmark (16%), Spain (11%) and Sweden (9%). In 2019-2020, the volume of imports of soybean oil to Poland significantly increased (up to 33% of all imports), but the role of other EU countries decreased from 45% to 32%.
EU Soybean Oil Demand
In the period 2019/2020, about 153.31 million tons of soybeans were imported in the world.
According to Eurostat-Comext statistics, for the period 2014-2018, imports of soybean oil amounted to 0.23 million tons per year. The EU’s three leaders in this indicator are Norway (22%), Ukraine (22%) and Serbia (16%), followed by Paraguay (15%) and Russia (14%). Other countries account for only 11% of soybean oil imports. In 2019-2020 MY, import volumes increased by 55% (up to 0.36 million tons).
In the EU, soybean oil is mainly used for food and industrial purposes, such as biofuels, cosmetics and paints. Import of this product in this region is increasing every year. Thus, according to the European Commission, in less than 50 weeks of the last season, Europe imported more than 17 and a half million tons of oilseeds, which is 5% more than a year earlier. Soybean imports in the region amounted to almost 13 and a half million tons, which is 9% more than the previous season.
At the same time, according to USDA estimates, the export of soybean oil to the EU began to decline. This trend is due to a revision of the use of biofuel quality standards.
Regarding the use of soy in the food sector, the use of transgenic soy is prohibited by law in the EU. According to European requirements, in order to obtain plant certification that allows exporting oil to the EU, it is necessary to establish a transparent system for recognizing soy as a non-GM product at all stages of its production: from cultivation to obtaining soybean processing products and its sale.