Soy cultivation in Europe is poised to break new ground

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Soy growing in a field in Ukraine © GettyImages/Yevhen Smyk
Soy growing in a field in Ukraine © GettyImages/Yevhen Smyk

Related tags Soy Ukraine EUDR

Soy cultivation in Europe is anticipated to soar between 5-10% in 2024, reaching an unprecedented 5.3-5.7 million tons.

Key soy-producing nations including France and Germany are expected to witness an expansion in soy growing areas, according to the latest Donau Soja market report.

This growth is fueled by the compelling economic conditions surrounding soy prices, presenting a more profitable alternative compared to other crops.

Despite a 10-15% global market price decline over the past three months, EU non-GM prices have displayed resilience, holding steady. In mid-February, Bologna non-GM soybean prices dipped to €450/t, marking a modest 3% reduction from their recent peak in mid-December, reads that publication.

Ukrainian cultivation

Ukraine, a leading soy producer, is projected to witness a remarkable 21% increase in soy cultivation, reaching a record 2.2 million hectares in 2024, as per the country's agricultural ministry. While a survey on farmers' spring planting intentions underpins this forecast, APK Inform, a prominent agri-market research company in Ukraine, predicts a slightly more conservative growth rate.

Its preliminary forecast suggests a potential 13-19% increase in soy planted areas, yielding 5.5-6 million tons under favorable weather conditions, found the Donau Soja outlook.

This year could mark the fourth consecutive expansion of soy cultivation in Ukraine, attributed to its superior profitability compared to other oilseeds and cereals. Factors such as dissatisfaction among farmers with sunflower prices and a reduction in rapeseed planting due to 2023's autumn drought contribute to the surge in soy planting, reported the analysts.

EU farmers forecast to chose soy again

The EU's soy area is projected to grow by 5-10%, reaching a record 1.1-1.2 million hectares in 2024. Producers across the bloc are expected to either stabilize or expand planting, primarily at the expense of corn. Encouraged by the high soy yield in 2023, some farmers are likely to choose soy again, as per the market review.

In Germany, where soybean crop development has been dynamic, a 5-10% increase is anticipated, reaching 50,000 hectares in 2024. Factors such as ADM Mainz processing non-GM soybeans and increased demand for regional non-GM soybeans contribute to this growth. Informative events organized by Sojaförderring, in collaboration with LeguNet, ADM, and seed companies, further support soybean cultivation.

France is expected to witness an 18% surge in soybean acreage compared to the previous year. Soybeans and other spring crops are anticipated to benefit from challenges faced during the growth period for winter cereals, noted the publication.  

Surge in Serbia 

Serbia is poised for significant expansion, with soy cultivation forecasted to rebound to 250,000 hectares in 2024, marking a 60-70% increase from 2023. The surge is attributed to favorable soybean prices compared to wheat and corn, along with the high availability of certified seeds in the region.

Despite this optimistic outlook, crushers express concerns about the new EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) legislation and its implementation. With the upcoming sowing campaign just months away, clarity on compliance measures remains elusive, adding a layer of uncertainty to the industry's trajectory, cautioned the authors.

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