Soybeans are a type of legume. They have been being cultivated in East Asia for over 5000 years but weren’t introduced into the Western world until the 20th Century.
Soybeans, and products derived from soybeans, are important commodities in today’s global marketplace. TFG has gathered all the information you might need to know to help you trade them.
How are they Grown?
Soybeans are cultivated in similar conditions to corn and, therefore, compete with corn for acreage. Farmers often begin the planting season with a choice on whether they should plant corn or soybeans.
To make this decision, they look at the current futures price for each grain and compare the ‘corn-soybean spread’ – the ratio between the price of corn and the price of soybeans.
Once they’ve decided to grow soybeans, they plant the seeds in rows. These can then take up to a week to sprout into plants.
The Many Uses of Soybean
Whilst many people eat soybeans or food that contains soy, particularly in countries across Asia, only a small fraction of the soybeans that are produced each year are used for this purpose. The vast majority of soybeans – almost 75% of them – are actually used as animal feed.
Here are some other ways in which we use soy:
Soybeans are made up of around 18% oil. This is extracted to create soybean oil, which is then used as an ingredient in many different dishes and as cooking oil. Once the oil is extracted, the leftover soybean meal is used as animal feed.
Around 2% of soy production is used to create biofuels. Corn is still much more frequently used in the production of biofuels than other grains, but interest in soy for this purpose is growing.
Soy crayons are a non-toxic alternative to regular crayons that are usually made with petroleum.
- Other Uses
Soy is also used in the production of candles, particleboard, biocomposites, inks, lubricants, foams and other products.
Soybean Market Overview
The global market for soy has been rising steadily for the past few years and there are a few reasons for traders to have a positive outlook on the soybean market in the years to come.
Transparency Market Research predicts that the value of the global soybean market will grow from $146.23 billion to $215.746 billion between 2017 and 2025.
As developing economies such as China grow wealthier, more and more people will likely increase their meat consumption and turn to healthier food. The soy market stands to gain from both of these trends due to the use of soybeans as livestock feed as well as their associated health benefits.
Also serving to increase demand is the growing awareness of these health benefits. However, if consumer opinion on the health front changes, this may spell out bad news for soybeans.
Supplies in the future could also be affected by climate change trends which influence weather patterns and the production of soybeans and other crops.
The USDA publishes a quarterly report which provides important information for traders about the current soybean market, such as changes in stocks. You can access their most recent report.