News services reported that Alaa Khalil, the head of the Egyptian Agricultural Ministry’s Field Crops Research Institute, aims to more than quadruple the area of soybean plantings in Egypt to reach 60,000 hectares by 2030. In the immediate 2019/20 growing season, Khalil targets expanding soybean plantings 116% from the 2018/19 season to reach 32,000 hectares. Khalil notes that Egyptian “farmers are reluctant to plant soybeans because of low profits and lack of incentives.” 

According to Khalil, it is Egypt’s reliance on vegetable oil imports that has prompted the new plantings target. A look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) latest estimates for 2018/19 soybean product output and consumption shows that Egypt’s domestic crushing industry produced 620,000 tonnes of soybean oil to help meet domestic consumption seen at 735,000 tonnes while producing 2.685 million tonnes of soybean meal to meet domestic consumption of 3.275 million tonnes. According to USDA, Egypt imported an estimated 225,000 tonnes of soybean meal – 7% of domestic consumption, along with 83,000 tonnes of soybean oil – 11% of domestic consumption. Egypt is seen to have imported 3.350 million tonnes of soybeans – 97% of domestic consumption, in the 2018/19 marketing year with the vast majority of those beans coming from the U.S. 

In the Foreign Agriculture Service’s (FAS) Oilseed and Products Annual 2019 report, the Post noted that four new varieties of soybeans were set to be released in the 2019/20 marketing year.  The Post also notes that expanded crush capacity is expected to reach about 11,641 tonnes per day in 2019/20 which would be up 37.2% from 2018/19 processing rates. Increased shipments of U.S. soybeans in recent years have helped to meet Egypt’s growing soybean needs. According to the latest Federal Grain Inspections (FGIS) data, the U.S. shipped 2.787 million tonnes of soybeans to Egypt in the 2018/19 marketing year. This represented an increase of 15.7% from 2017/18 data. Based on reported shipments through early November, this figure would project to a 2019/20 total in excess of 3.340 million tonnes. Until Egypt is able to boost its domestic soybean output, the north African nation is seen as a crucial export market for U.S. soybeans.