U.S. soybean exports set records despite global issues

April 20, 2023

Soybean exports from the United States have been impressive. U.S. Soybean Export Council CEO Jim Sutter cites an all-time record in terms of the value of soybeans exported. The marketing year was the second highest in terms of soybean volume exported. That amounts to almost 72 million metric tons of soybeans worth $40 billion being shipped to foreign soybean customers.

“We were quite fearful that with the pandemic situation and with the economic issues, the Ukraine conflict, that we wouldn’t see that kind of demand, but it held up well,” said Sutter, in an interview during the 2023 Commodity Classic in Orlando, Florida. “We were pleasantly surprised, I think, with the way that demand held up. And also, I have the say, that there was a little bit lower crop in South America, so the U.S. was there to fill that void.”

Sutter is encouraged by soybean export demand, specifically in China, which is importing more from the U.S. than it did last year. But what he characterizes as clouds on the horizon are gathering over developing markets, such as Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh. “Those kinds of markets that are early stage what we call emerging markets because the economies are just kind of ramping up; people are starting to consume more protein,” he said. “But those countries are all being impacted by the strength of the dollar, which makes things more expensive in their local currency, and also those particular countries are having a little bit of economic trouble, so they have more expensive prices in their local currency at a time they don’t have strong economic conditions in the country.

Regarding soy-based renewable diesel and other soy-based renewable fuels, Sutter says they affect production of and demand for soy protein.

“We’re excited to have more meal from the U.S. to be able to export and people say, ‘well, where will it go? Do you have markets for that?’ And I think we’ve got great markets, in Europe, in North Asia, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, the Americas,” said Sutter. “But I just want people to know that that’s something we’re watching very carefully and working with our teams around the world, working with the people that are going to be producing that meal and the customers around the world, to make sure that as more crush comes on in the U.S. as there’s more meal to export, we have markets where that will go.”

There’s more conversation with Jim Sutter on the Soybean POD, available wherever you get your podcasts and at www.sdsoybean.org.