According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, U.S. soybean farmers exported more than 1.8 billion bushels of U.S. soy during the 2011-2012 marketing year, compared with approximately 2 billion bushels in 2010-2011. The 2012 export numbers include 1.3 billion bushels of whole soybeans, meal from more than 404 million bushels of soybeans and the oil from 126.5 million bushels of soybeans. U.S. soy exports this year are valued at more than $23 billion.
U.S. farmers harvested 3.05 billion bushels of soybeans last year, so these exports represent about 55 percent of that production. Soy customers in China, the largest importer, bought almost 850 million bushels of whole soybeans, or more than one out of every four rows U.S. farmers grew.
"Our customers' main concern has been whether we were going to be a reliable supplier," says Sharon Covert, soybean farmer from Tiskilwa, Ill., who leads USB's International Marketing program. "The checkoff continues to assure them that while we may not have as many bushels per acre, we are a reliable supplier of high-quality soybeans."
Throughout the year, the soy checkoff remains in contact with international customers to discuss many soy industry issues, such as quality and current crop conditions. These conversations proved to be especially important with this summer's conditions.
Covert adds that it is important for customers of U.S. soy to know that farmers provide this supply of soy in a sustainable manner. The production practices farmers use, such as no-till or low-till, are not only important to many soy buyers but also help soil retain water in dry years such as this past production year.
Top buyers of whole U.S. soybeans include:
• China: 848.7 million bushels
• Mexico: 122.1 million bushels
• Japan: 66.3 million bushels
• Indonesia: 65.1 million bushels
• Egypt: 43.1 million bushels
• Taiwan: 38.7 million bushels
Top buyers of U.S. soy meal include:
• Mexico: meal from 67.6 million bushels of soybeans
• Philippines: meal from 53.1 million bushels of soybeans
• Canada: meal from 50.4 million bushels of soybeans
Top buyers of U.S. soy oil include:
• Morocco: oil from 30.4 million bushels of soybeans
• Mexico: oil from 28.8 million bushels of soybeans
• China: oil from 20.2 million bushels of soybeans