Weekly export data reported by USDA-FAS, indicates that total U.S. soybean exports during the first four months (September-December) of the 2023/24 marketing year reached a volume of 841.9 million bushels, down by 185.8 million bushels from the previous year (1.0 billion bushels) (Figure 1). The U.S. is facing strong competition from Brazil, which registered high volumes of shipments during October to November reflecting large beginning stocks and competitive prices compared with the U.S.

Exports to China, the leading market for U.S. soybeans, declined 26% to 528.7 million bushels in comparison with last year. Still exports to China made up 63% of U.S. total soybean exports during the first four months of the 2023/24 marketing year. Also declining during that period were exports to Japan 31.7 million bushels compared with 35.5 million bushels last year (September to December).

The European Union (EU) is, by far, the second largest market for U.S. soybeans and exports to that region during September to December 2023 were up 42% to 105.6 million bushels period-over-period.

Figure 1. U.S. Soybean Exports: Top Markets, First Four Months (September to December) of Marketing Years 2018/19 to 2023/24

After August 2023, the gap between U.S. and Brazil soybean prices narrowed compared with prices reported from January to July 2023 (see Figure 2). Although export prices have declined from December 8, 2023, U.S. soybean price by January 10, 2024 ($441/MT)  was still $20/MT higher relative to Brazil at  ($421/MT).


A graph of a graph showing the export of soybeanDescription automatically generated

Source: USDA-FAS based on International Grain Council data. All prices are FOB.

Figure 2. Soybean Export Prices

The most recently reported U.S. soybean export data (January 11,2024), indicated that during the first week of January 2024, soybean exports continued the downward trend, falling 14% to 31.7 million bushels from the previous week and down 27% from the prior four-week average.

Figure 3. U.S. Total Weekly Soybean Exports and Exports to China, September to December 2023, and First week of January 2024

USDA’s WASDE December 2023 for U.S. soybean export projection for the 2023/24 marketing year was equal to 1.755 billion bushels, which was down 12% from 2022/23 (1.992 billion bushels). The January 2024 forecast was unchanged from the December forecast. The January 2024 projected soybean average farm price for 2023/24 was $12.75/bushel, falling 15 cents per bushel from last month’s projection and it was down $1.45/bushel compared with the 2022/23 price ($14.20/bushel).

Given the total volume of soybeans exported through January 4, 2023 (873.9 million bushels), the U.S. still has to export 881.4 million bushels between January 5th and the end of August to reach the expected U.S. soybean exports for 2023/24. Note that as of January 4, 2024, the volume of outstanding sales was about 479.4 million bushels, if those contracts are realized, the U.S. would still need to sell and export an additional 402.0 million bushels from January to the end of the 2023/24 marketing year to fulfill the projected exports.