Major Players

The US is a major player in the world soybean meal market (Table 1). In 2024, the US is expected to be the second largest producer and consumer of soybean meal, along with the third largest exporter.

Argentina is the largest exporter of soybean meal, and the EU is the largest importer of soybean meal. China is the largest consumer of soybean meal but is notably absent from the top importer list. China has historically preferred to import soybeans and crush them domestically.

graph of major players in world soybean meal tradeTable 1. Major Players in the World Soybean Meal Market

Relative Value of US Soybean Meal Imports and Exports

To get a more detailed look at world soybean meal trade the rest of this article will reference BACI data not USDA data. Therefore, the following tables will not be directly comparable to Table 1. BACI is an international trade dataset assembled by CEPII using the United Nation’s Comtrade data that is corrected for inconsistencies.  

Figure 1 shows US soybean meal imports and exports in terms of value, quantity, and average price. As mentioned earlier, the US is a top exporter of soybean meal and imports almost none.

3 graphs of world soybean meal average price, quantity, and valueFigure 1. US Soybean Meal Trade

Major Trade Partners for US Soybean Meal

From 2018-2022, Mexico was the largest importer of US soybean meal, making up 17% of US exports (Table 2). Colombia, Canada, the Philippines, and Ecuador are all major trading partners. Interestingly, the relative size of US soybean meal trade is consistent across partners. The US does not have one dominant importing trading partner for soybean meal.

The US hardly imports any soybean meal. Of the meal it does import, India and Canada are the largest suppliers. Most of the soybean meal imported from India is certified organic soybean meal.

Graph of major US soybean meal trade partnersTable 2. Major US Soybean Meal Trade Partners

Markets of Other Major Exporters

Table 3 outlines trade relationships of the top four largest exporters of soybean meal other than the US. 

From 2018-2022 Argentina’s largest trading partners were the EU, Viet Nam, and Indonesia. Only 62% of its total soybean meal exports went to these top 5 trading partners. This indicates that like the US, Argentina also has a fair amount of moderately large trading partners. 

From 2018-2022 Brazil’s largest trading partner was the EU, making up almost 50% of its exports. Thailand and Indonesia were also relatively large partners. 

The EU was also Paraguay’s largest trading partner, making up 30% of its exports. Chile and the UK were relatively large partners as well. 

Bolivia’s largest trading partners were Colombia and Peru, who together make up over 80% of its soybean meal exports. Bolivia’s top 5 partners make up over 95% of its soybean meal exports. 

graph of trade partners of major soybean meal exportersTable 3. Trade Partners of Other Major Exporters

Markets of Major Importers

Table 4 outlines the trade relationships of the four largest soybean importers in the world. The US was a relatively minor contributor to all these counties from 2018-2022. They all sourced most of their soybean meal from Argentina and Brazil.

The EU is by far the largest importer of soybean meal. Its top trading partners are Brazil and Argentina who made up over 80% of their soybean meal imports combined.

Indonesia sourced over 90% of its imports from Brazil and Argentina.

Thailand sourced over 80% of its imports from Brazil. Brazil and Argentina combined for almost 95% of its imports.

Viet Nam sourced over 70% of its imports from Argentina. Brazil and Argentina combined for almost 95% of its imports.

graph of major soybean meal importersTable 4. Trade Partners of Other Major Importers