If you’re interested in how much soy is grown for animal feed, you’ve come to the right place.
Here, you’ll find the latest figures on Soy beans production worldwide.
You can also learn about soy production in the U.S., Brazil, EU, and more.
According to USDA, more than 70% of the soybeans grown in the United States are consumed by animals as nutritious feed.
However, poultry is the most popular livestock used as animal feed, followed by hogs, dairy, beef, and aquaculture.
You’ll get an overview of the global soy industry and how you can support your local farmers.
Global Soy Statistics
Soybeans are the world’s primary source of protein for feed, but their value does not stop there.
Soybeans are also processed into soy oil and meal, as well as human food, fuel and industrial materials. Ninety percent of soy produced is turned into feed for livestock.
Here is a breakdown of soy’s use in the world. Here’s a look at some of the key factors in soy production.
Soy farming is not without its critics. In addition to being bad for the environment, soybean farming for animal feed has also negatively affected human health and income inequality.
Agricultural workers, particularly in large-scale production for export, have less freedom and security than other workers. In some countries, smallholder farmers are forced to sell their land for soy production, and violent attacks against Indigenous peoples have occurred on soy estates.
Soy farms are responsible for the destruction of native forests and grasslands around the world. In countries like Brazil and Argentina, soy fields are rapidly turning forests and grasslands into monocultures.
But while soybeans are nutritious, they are not sustainable and deforestation is a major concern.
Fortunately, global soy production for animal feed has lowered deforestation in some regions and prompted a soy moratorium in Brazil to reduce the impact on the Amazon.
U.S. Soy Statistics
A major part of soybean production in the U.S. goes to the production of soy meal, the primary product used in animal feed.
Approximately 97% U.S. soybeans are exported around the world. The remaining portion is processed here to produce a variety of products. Among these are feed for chicken, beef, and dairy cattle, which are a key market for soybean meal.
Soybeans were first cultivated in China as far back as 2800 BC. They were considered one of the five sacred grains of China. Around 1800, soybeans were introduced to the U.S., which is now the largest soybean producer in the world.
There are currently more than 150 varieties of soybeans grown in the U.S., with the yellow soybean being the predominant variety in commercial markets.
After harvest, soybeans are stored in grain bins until they are processed at a soybean processing facility such as Cargill in North Carolina.
These processors separate soybeans from their oil and meal, and a 60-pound bushel of soybeans yields 11 pounds of crude soybean oil and 47 pounds of soybean meal.
These products are sold to food distributors, and the byproducts of soybean processing are used to make biodiesel.
Biodiesel is an alternative fuel that does not require any changes in the diesel engine and produces less pollution and reduces the use of non-renewable diesel fuel.
EU Soy Statistics
In the EU, about 40 million tons of soya are consumed as animal feed. This amount of soya is grown on an area equivalent to 14 million hectares or 20 football fields.
In 2017, about 98 per cent of soya beans consumed by livestock in the EU were imported.
Those beans come from South America and are grown in monocultures or duocultures. In many cases, these fields are located in rainforest soils that no longer have the ability to deal with the high precipitation, causing massive erosion damage.
The World Wide Fund for Nature commissioned a report to examine how much soy is consumed in the EU. The report found that soy production directly impacts the environment, but it also negatively impacts the ecosystems that support it.
Because soy is grown on farmland, it releases carbon dioxide that would otherwise remain trapped in the soil. This means that animal feed is a significant part of the carbon cycle.
Brazil Soy Statistics
Brazil produces 16.3 million tons of soymeal each year for its domestic market. More than 90 percent of that soy is turned into animal feed.
The bulk of this feed is used for chicken, pig, and beef and dairy cattle. Yet soy is associated with significant negative impacts, including deforestation and land-use conflicts. Soy farming is a major contributor to these issues.
Brazilian soybean production is concentrated in the Cerrados, where it accounts for 30 percent of the country’s total. The temperature fluctuations are narrow throughout the year.
Traditionally, soybean is planted in one crop each year. More recently, the crop is replaced by maize.
This rotation allows for shorter harvests, with soybean harvested late in January and February. Veranicos – short periods of rainfall – can occur.
Brazilian biodiesel is made from soy. Biodiesel production requires a significant amount of soybean oil. A study by Chain Reaction Research found that a single soy farm razed 50 square kilometers of land in the first three months of 2020.
The Cerrado is home to four crushing facilities that have helped shape the landscape. These facilities catalyze the expansion of soy plantations.
Netherlands Soy Statistics
Soy is one of the world’s most widely used ingredients for animal feed, but how much is grown in the Netherlands? The Dutch feed industry consumes around 75% of all soy produced.
The Dutch feed industry alone accounts for about half of the world’s soy consumption, according to the 3Keel report.
While the numbers differ in some areas, these differences are largely due to time and volume changes.
Also, the report did not include soy oil, farm-mixed feed, or aquaculture, which are two of the fastest growing sectors in the Netherlands.
The Dutch use approximately 1.74 million tons of soy annually, and a portion of this is exported to other European countries. In the Netherlands, about a fifth of this amount is consumed as animal feed, according to the IUCN NL committee.
The Netherlands is among the top two soy importers in the world, and the average yield was about 3,600 kilos/ha. But that number could be higher.
The Netherlands imports about 8 million tons of soy each year, making it the world’s second largest buyer of the crop.
China Soy Statistics
Soy production for human consumption has diverged from soy production for animal feed, with different policies, markets, and prices.
More than 80% of the world’s soy is used for animal feed, and China imports most of its soy from countries outside the United States.
The vast majority of its soybean imports are processed into feed for poultry, pigs, and other livestock. The remaining 10 percent is used in human food products, including dog food, and pet foods.
The government of China has taken measures to support the sustainable development of the soy industry in the country.
For example, in 2014, it implemented an international soy standard, RTRS, and began certifying 24,000 hectares of soybeans under its criteria.
This initiative was a first for a Chinese enterprise, and was supported by the Solidaridad Network, a Dutch nonprofit organization.
Indirect Soy Exports
Soy imports to the Netherlands are mainly processed for animal feed. This sector accounts for about one-quarter of all global soy imports.
While soymeal, soybean oil, and soybean meal are primarily used for animal feed, most of the remainder is exported in other forms. Soya for animal feed is an indirect export.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, more than three-quarters of all soybeans produced worldwide are used as animal feed.
In 2018, Brazil accounted for the largest share of soy exports to the EU. In 2018, the EU imported 13 Mt of Brazilian soy as beans and meal.
The EU is the second largest importer of Matopiba soy after Brazil, which contributed about 17 percent of the total.
Other countries such as Argentina and Paraguay also contribute to Brazil’s soy exports. Soy imports to the EU are expected to continue increasing in the coming years.
The EU imports soy in the form of embedded soy in livestock products. Pork and poultry are particularly heavily embedded with soy. The volume of meat and poultry products traded within the EU is substantial.
Pork imports from outside the EU represent less than a percent of EU consumption. Pork imports from outside the EU are mostly from countries with other European markets.
Poultry imports mostly come from Brazil and Ukraine and consist of prepared or preserved poultry, frozen or otherwise.
Alternatives to Soybeans
Insect meal has gained popularity in recent years as an alternative protein source for livestock. Its high protein content, fatty acids, and antimicrobial peptides make it an excellent option for animal feed.
Many insects have high protein and amino acid content and can be grown locally. Black soldier fly meal contains a higher lipid content than soybean meal.
Insect protein can be a suitable alternative for certain livestock, and the insects are natural food for their wild cousins.
Since soybean meal is the main protein component of compound feed for dairy cows, pigs, and poultry, it is costly.
That’s why many farmers are looking for cheaper alternatives. Luckily, there are a variety of locally grown feed ingredients that can partially replace soy meal.
In addition, many producers are replacing soybean meal with locally-grown ingredients such as oats, wheat, and corn.
Several other factors should be taken into consideration when selecting an alternative protein source for your flock.