Customers in the European Union (EU) depend on U.S. soybean farmers to maintain a consistent supply of soybean meal. Currently, they account for nearly 13 percent of total U.S. soybean meal exports.
And that level is growing. Although U.S. soybean market share in the EU has declined over the last 30 years, U.S. soybean meal export trade to Europe grew in 2013, thanks in part to intensified efforts by the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC).
Supported by the soy checkoff, USSEC works to improve customer preference for U.S. soybean meal by helping buyers recognize the value of higher quality and service.
Animal agriculture is the primary driver of soy demand in the EU.
“The EU’s swine and poultry sectors make it an excellent export market,” says Scott Singlestad, vice chair of the United Soybean Board’s Meal Action Team and farmer from Waseca, Minn. “Supplying soybean meal to European customers provides a major destination that drives U.S. soy demand and helps keep the U.S. soy crushing industry strong.”
Also contributing to the jump in EU soy exports were Brazilian shipping delays during their harvest season beginning in March, which led to increased shipping costs for Brazilian farmers and made U.S. soybean meal the more affordable option. Even after those shipping costs eased, importers had already committed U.S. soy to Spain, Italy, France and other countries.
Singlestad says international customers don’t have to worry as much about the U.S. transportation system.
“Our reliable infrastructure and shipping capacity currently give U.S. soy a logistical advantage,” he says.