What Are Soybeans Used For?

USB Staff Writer

USB Staff Writer

United Soybean Board

Soy. It’s much more than a latte option, tofu or a U.S. export China levied a tariff on.

Farmers grow soybeans throughout the United States. About 60 percent of U.S. soybeans are exported around the world, while the rest are processed here. But regardless of where they are used, the vast majority are crushed to separate the protein and oil in the bean.

Products made from soybeans touch everyday life in countless ways, though often behind the scenes.

Animal nutrition

Animal agriculture produces high-quality protein in the form of dairy, meat, poultry, fish and eggs. But much of that protein started as soy. In fact, global animal agriculture is the No. 1 customer for U.S. soybeans.

Animals like chickens, pigs, turkeys, cattle and fish rely on nutrient-dense soybean meal to thrive. They need high levels of quality protein and digestible energy to grow, all found in soybean meal.

According to a study funded by the soy checkoff, the soybean meal fed in the U.S. goes to several segments of animal agriculture.

  • Poultry eats about 67 percent.1
  • Pigs consume nearly 21 percent.1
  • Beef and dairy cattle use just over 10 percent.1
  • The rest goes to aquatic farming like fish and shrimp, other farm animals and companion animals like horses and pets.1

Countries buying soybeans from the U.S. also use soybean meal to feed animals. For example, it feeds poultry in Columbia, pigs in the European Union, fish in Southeast Asia and much more, according to the U.S. Soybean Export Council.

Human nutrition

Of course, people need high-quality protein, too. Soybeans deliver a vegetable protein option in many forms.

  • Tofu, a nutritious protein option, may be the most well-known form of soy.
  • Tempeh, made from fermented soybeans, carries similar nutritional benefits to tofu.
  • The popular appetizer edamame is soybeans picked while still green.