Massive jump in EU imports of US soybeans, but normal trading patterns set to resume

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages
© GettyImages

Related tags Soybean Brazil tariff biofuels

New figures released by the European Commission on Tuesday [April 16], show that imports of US soybeans by the European Union increased by 121% over the current market year (July 2018 to mid-April 2019), compared to the same period in the previous year.

In volume terms, EU imports of beans from the US have reached 8,244,594 tons for the year to date.

The US share of EU soybean imports is now at 72%, compared to 36% in in the same period last year.

Total imports of soybeans are up 9% year on year at 11,386,789 tons.

The latest data comes from the Crops Market Observatory​, a service launched by the European Commission in July 2017 to ensure more market transparency.

The US, as per that data sheet, is well ahead of Brazil, which was traditionally Europe’s main supplier of soybeans.

Price is king 

Increasing trade in a number of areas and products, including soybeans, was one of the Joint Statement's objectives​, as agreed between Presidents Juncker and Trump on 25 July 2018.

However, competitive prices for US soybeans were central to the reason whey EU feed buyers and users were so keen to access them.

Alexander Döring, secretary general of EU Feed Manufacturers' Federation (FEFAC), told FeedNavigator the import trend of late has been primarily the result of the more favorable trading conditions for US origin, linked to the trade conflict between the US and China, since the beginning of MY 2018/2019, which prevailed until beginning of 2019.

"Currently, the price spread between US and Brazilian origin has all but disappeared, meaning a return to normal trading patterns including new crop deliveries from Brazil."

EU imports of soy April 2019 data

However, he noted that the EU Commission RED II approval of SSAP certified US beans, for use in EU biofuel production, at the end of January 2019, as well as the setting up of high-level joint US/EU senior expert group overseeing the implementation of the US/EU soy statement can be considered as positive 'soft factors'​ facilitating US soy trade, with both parties recognizing that market forces will prevail.  

eu soybean imports tonnage and price

Another Commission report also show the US is the most important origin for EU agri-food imports in general.

From February 2018 to January 2019, the value of agri-food imports from the US increased by 14%, a jump in value of €1.5bn, mainly due to the increase in imports of soybeans, soybean oilcakes and several other products, it said.

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