UK to see decrease in rapeseed production and hike in imports of soybean meal and oil

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/bfk92
© GettyImages/bfk92

Related tags Rapeseed Soybean meal

Rapeseed production remains low in the UK, which is leading to increased reliance on imports of oilseed, meal, and oil, according to a USDA FAS report.

In the UK market, rapeseed meal competes with soybeans and soybean meal from the US and other suppliers as well as domestic sunflower meal and grains in feed ratios. “In dairy production, rapeseed meal has become the dominant protein source.”

Due to its high protein content, soybean meal remains the top choice in feed ratios for poultry and swine in that market, noted the publication​.

Market volatility

Given the current market unpredictability in input costs, farmers are substituting different meals in livestock feeding regimens, but the scale of substitution is difficult to forecast, said the authors.

“Demand for oilseed meals for livestock feed use is expected to remain at current levels with a small year on year increase.”

Soybean seed and meal imports also have associated risks and certain varieties are restricted as the UK has not yet unilaterally approved the numerous GM events already approved by the EU, commented the USDA team. 

Planting decisions 

The report forecasts that total UK rapeseed oilseed production in MY2022/23 will reach 1.1 MMT; the planting area for MY2022/23 will increase slightly but is still close to the 20-year low of MY2021/22 due to the loss of pesticides, continued yield issues, and unstable costs.

UK arable farmers are now assessing the risk of starting a rapeseed crop given the level of market volatility that exists, said the authors.

“UK farmers are no longer constrained by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and are expected to make planting decisions for all crops much closer to the planting season that previous years. Market fluctuation in both the costs of fertilizer and the potential value of crops will also influence farmers crop choices.”

The UK is expected to see a 6% increase in soybean crush volumes for MY2021/22 and MY2022/23 to meet demands from the livestock sector.

Higher inclusion levels of SBM in feed 

Feed use of soybean meal (SBM) is expected to go up 3% compared to the year prior. 

Imports of soybean meal are also forecast to rise to 2.4 MMT in MY2022/23, according to the outlook. The major supplier will be Argentina, followed by the EU. “Feed usage of soybean meal remains high in MY2021/22 largely supported by the continued inclusion in livestock rations, despite high global prices."

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