The EU: 3% Self-Sufficiency for Soybean Meal Protein


Feb 24, 2023 | Agricultural Markets News

Reading time: 2 minutes

The privileged role of Soybean Meal as an ingredient in compound feed formulation is mainly due to its higher protein content compared to other crops, its amino acid content, and year-round availability. With roughage excluded, Soybean Meal has become the essential individual protein source in the European Union 27+UK, supplying 29% of the crude protein for feed use in 2019/20. Based on dry matter, Soybean Meal has an average protein share of 53%, compared to Rapeseed Meal with 40% and Sunflower Meal with 33%. Roughage accounts for around 45% of the protein supply in feed, based on protein equivalent.

However, the self-sufficiency rate for protein from Soybean Meal is low, with domestic production covering just 3% of demand in 2019/20.8 Soybean crop protein gap concerning the extensive European Union 27+UK animal product industry is leading to the observed strong dependence on soy imports. As per the AgFlow data, the total Soybean imports volume of the European Union reached 1 million tons last month. Spain imported 0.4 million tons, followed by Italy (0.2 million tons), the Netherlands (0.15 million tons), and Portugal (82,841 tons).

According to the European Compound Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC), the volume of industrial compound feed produced in the EU27+UK reached 164.86 million tons in 2020. This volume accounted for around 20% of the total feed consumed by farm animals that year, while roughages accounted for 67% and on-farm feed materials for 13%.

As the 2020 compound feed production figures are only provided per species but not further broken down per species (e.g., the distinction between fattening and dairy cows for cattle feed or between broilers and layers for poultry feed), the relative division as reported by FEFAC for 2017 was applied to the 2020 production volumes. Moreover, aquaculture feed production is not separately written by FEFAC. Therefore, its share in “other feed” was estimated based on European aquaculture feed production volumes published in the Alltech Global Feed Survey 2021.

There is no other sizeable market for Soybean Meal than its use in feedstuffs. This refers notably to its inclusion as a high-quality crop protein source in compound feeds and smaller volumes added in home-mixing on the farm. The composition of industrial compound feeds between certain margins annually, depending on availability and market prices. In the case of Soybean Meal, its content share may be somewhat higher or lower depending on the availability and price of other crop protein sources; however, as Soybean Meal is the most crucial high-quality crop protein, these margins are limited. While it is known that the share of Soybean Meal in compound feeds also shows differences between different European countries, it is challenging to access detailed figures across all countries and animal species.

The EU: 3% Self-Sufficiency for Soybean Meal Protein

Soybean Feed in EU Aquaculture

In aquaculture feed, soy is an important protein source. It includes considerable soy protein concentrate (SPC) and Soybean Meal shares. The composition differs between different aquaculture systems in Europe, with the main systems being freshwater, cold-water marine, and warm-water marine production. First, the share of the three main aquaculture production systems for fish in the overall reported volume of aquaculture fish feed in the European Union 27+UK in 2020 was calculated based on FAO aquaculture production data.  

In the second step, average estimates for including SPC and Soybean Meal in the different aquaculture feeds allowed to estimate the total volume of the soy products used for farmed fish in 2020. These calculations led to an estimated average content of 15% SPC and 10% Soybean Meal in the total aquaculture feed. Based on Soybean industry conversion factors, SPC can be converted to Soybean Meal equivalent volume by applying a factor of 2.38.

Other sources: WWF EU

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