Rob Ewoldt in field with his planter

(Photo: Iowa Soybean Association)

Five trends impacting the future of the global soy market

April 21, 2022 | Brock Johnston

In 2021, U.S. soybean farmers grew nearly one-third of the soybeans in the global market. To ensure U.S. soy retains access to a quickly changing, consumer driven market, five state soybean checkoff groups jointly funded an effort designed to help soybean farmers make smart and informed decisions that will increase opportunities for future access.

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), in partnership with the Illinois Soybean Association, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council and Ohio Soybean Council, conducted the Future State of Soy report that identified high-impact trends for soy in the years to come.

“As soy demand grows and usage diversifies, these trends provide farmers with decision making insights that will better position them for future success,” says Robb Ewoldt, ISA president and soybean farmer of Davenport.

This exercise uncovered five major trends that will impact the global soy market and U.S. soybean farmers in particular.

The five trends identified in the Future State of Soy exercise include:

  • A rising focus on high-quality soybean oil and meal;
  • Changes in fuel demand, including alternative fuels and emerging fuel uses;
  • The expanded need for protein given a growing global population, both in animal and plant form;
  • The increasing global competition for soy and how infrastructure can provide an impactful advantage; and
  • Emerging and diversified revenue streams that will offer farmers more opportunities.

The soybean checkoff invests in several programs, both at the national and state levels, to find new markets, uses and characteristics of soybeans that will align with these trends. These five areas of focus will serve as a litmus test when determining if future investments will result in strong returns for U.S. soybean farmers.

ISA continues to invest in projects to support these trends, including an emphasis on reliable infrastructure as key to accessing global soy markets. To ensure the future success of Iowa soybean farmers, ISA partnered with several state and national organizations for a $1 million commitment to improve and expand the aging infrastructure along the Upper Mississippi River, specifically Lock and Dam 25, located in Winfield, Missouri. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has since added the project to its’ work list of projects to receive funding this year, after the entity received $732 million from the federal government for infrastructure improvements along the Mississippi River.

As the soybean checkoff continues to position U.S. soy for the future, this work will help influence how the world perceives the value of domestic soy and soy products.

“The unique approach to this exercise really removed the bias some of us may have for segments of agriculture or part of the soybean supply chain,” says Ewoldt. “For instance, the need for more protein doesn’t prioritize animal protein over plant protein. The fact is soy is in an enviable position to support both food segments. Both will be valuable markets for U.S. soy in the future.”