Hand-in-Hand Demand

Nancy Hallahan

Nancy Hallahan

St. Louis, Missouri

Soy demand continues to soar with global prosperity

Americans really love bacon. And we’re not alone. Around the globe, pork is the most widely consumed meat. And while some culinary trends are just a flash in the (frying) pan, consumers’ appetite for pork shows no signs of slowing. Exports were up despite limited supplies of pork in 2014, and larger supplies of pork in 2015 are expected to boost exports even further.

According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), beef and pork exports are expected to set new value records in 2014 and again in 2015, with continued strong growth predicted over the next five to 10 years.

“The first thing people tend to do when they experience a raise in their discretionary income is to improve the quality and breadth of their diet,” says John Anderson, Ph.D., deputy chief economist, American Farm Bureau Foundation. “Globally, millions of people are adding chicken, pork or beef to what has been a very base diet. The outlook for the meat sector is better than it’s been in a long time, and, as the meat industry grows, so does demand for soybean meal.”

Exporting meat holds tremendous value for U.S. soybean farmers. Feeding soybean meal domestically, instead of exporting it, allows soybean farmers to save on freight costs. And the meat exports support the viability of U.S. animal agriculture, the biggest domestic customer of U.S. soy.

USMEF predicts that the value of beef and pork exports will exceed the $7 billion mark in 2015. This growth can be attributed not only to increased incomes and protein consumption but also to expanded market access, lower tariffs stemming from free-trade agreements and U.S. competitive advantages. Anderson says this global prosperity should give U.S. farmers a sense of pride and hope.

“Good crops this year are accompanied by strong foreign demand for U.S. soy, something that hasn’t always been true when we’ve had big crops in the past,” he says. “And lifestyle changes don’t reverse easily – consumers have developed a taste for meat, so the future is bright for U.S. soy.”