EU soybean imports from US dwindle

Image: UFOP

Since the partial agreement was reached in the trade dispute with China, the U.S. has ramped up soybean shipments to China. As a result, U.S. imports to the EU tailed off. European demand is therefore increasingly covered by Brazilian soybeans.

EU oilseed production can only cover around 56 percent of EU demand. Consequently, the EU-27 plus U.K. has always depended on oilseed imports from non-EU countries. Soybeans account for the largest share of oilseed imports, because soybean production in the EU is still relatively low. In the first half of the crop year 2020-’21, the EU-27 plus U.K. imported around 7.1 million metric tons of soybeans. This was up approximately 5 percent compared to last year’s period and down around 2 percent compared to two years earlier.

The biggest share of soybean imports—2.9 million tons or 40 percent—came from the U.S. Compared to the same period a year earlier, imports from the U.S. declined by around 12 percent. Compared to 2018-’19, the decrease amounted to as much as 46 percent. According to Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (mbH), the reason for the considerable falloff in soybean shipments from the U.S. is probably the partial settlement of the U.S.-China trade dispute. Since China started to place significant orders with the U.S. again, fewer U.S. soybeans have been available for exports to the EU.

As a consequence, EU demand has been covered to a greater extent by soybean imports from Brazil. These imports amounted to around 2.8 million tons between July and December 2020. This was just about twice the amount of the previous year. The third most important supplier was Canada, followed by Ukraine and Serbia.

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