2020/21 global soybean production to jump 8% y-o-y

May 17, 2020 - Global soybean production in 2020/21 is forecast to surge to 362.8 million tons, up 8 percent from the 2019/20 estimate and 2.5 million tons above the 2018/19 record, according to USDA’s GAIN report. Two factors are driving this increase: a rebound in plantings and yield in the United States and record area forecast in Brazil. Combined, Brazil and the United States are forecast to account for roughly two-thirds of global production and well over three-quarters of global soybean production growth.

Wet weather in much of the Midwest in 2019 delayed U.S. plantings of corn and soybeans and led to reductions in area planted and harvested and contributed to lower yields in many areas. While area harvested is forecast to rebound in 2020 to 33.5 million hectares, it will fall 2 million tons short of 2018. Yields are expected to return to trend with normal weather. In Brazil, a precipitous fall in the value of the real has resulted in record local prices. Strong early buying from China has pushed soybean exports to record levels in March and April, further encouraging area expansion in the coming year to 38.3 million hectares. Yields are also expected to improve over the current harvest which was reduced by to dry weather in some areas. Soybean production in Brazil is forecast to reach a record 131.0 million tons.

With expanding production, global soybean supplies will reach record levels. Demand, led by a rebound in China, is projected to exceed supply growth, resulting in a further draw-down in global ending stocks. Expansion of China’s swine herd, recovering from African Swine Fever, will help boost feed demand and drive both crush and import demand higher. China is projected to account for over half of global consumption growth in 2020/21 and roughly 85 percent of import growth. Export growth for the coming year will need to come from the United States as it may be difficult for South American suppliers to exceed current Oct/Sep 2019/20 export forecasts. Argentina exports are projected to decline in the face of strong competition from the United States and Brazil and growing domestic crush.

Global soybean meal consumption is projected to rise 4 percent on growing China demand. The country accounts for nearly one-third of global consumption and more than half of growth in consumption. Global meal exports are forecast to grow 1 percent in 2020/21, near historic trends. Three-quarters of total trade is expected to be supplied by South America. Argentina and India are projected to meet most of the growth in trade in 2020/21 as rising feed demand in the United States and Brazil will account for nearly all of the increase in their meal production. India’s meal exports are forecast to reach 1.9 million tons, up 420,000 tons from 2019/20’s depressed level.

Soybean oil consumption is projected to rise 4 percent, mostly on the strength of China demand where increased supplies of domestically produced oil will substitute for other oils. Exports are forecast to rise 2 percent in 2020/21 with total global volume projected to reach 11.8 million tons, a new record. Half of this will be supplied by Argentina where higher crush and lower demand for biodiesel will boost exportable supplies.