Soybean is an important source of high quality but inexpensive protein and oil. It has an average protein content of 40% and oil content of 18% - 20%. Soybean protein has great potential as a major source of dietary protein. A by-product from the oil production (soybean cake) is used as a high-protein animal feed in many countries. Soybean also improves soil fertility by adding nitrogen from the atmosphere.
It has emerged as an important commercial crop in many countries. About 82-85% of the global Soybean production is crushed for oil and meal, while the rest is consumed either in the form of 'bean' itself or for value-added soybean snack foods.
The bulk of the crop is solvent extracted for vegetable oil and defatted Soy meal which is used for animal feed. The extracted Soy oil is one of the major sources of edible oil in the world. Soy oil remnant after oil extraction is rich source of protein for livestock. In 2009, soybeans represented 53% of world oilseed production.
In India, soybean is a Kharif crop. Its sowing begins by end-June with the arrival of south-west monsoon. The crop is ready for harvest by the end of September.
Global Scenario
Soybean is the leading oilseed produced globally. Of the total global oilseed production Soybean production accounted for 58.9% in 2009/10; whereas of the total oilseed consumption Soybean consumption accounted to 56.7%.
The production of Soybean has increased from 211.21 MMT in 2008-09 to 257.46 MMT at a growth rate of 21.58%. On the other hand, consumption of soybean increased from 222.16 MMT in 2008-09 to 235.69 in 2009-10 MMT registering a growth of 6.09%.
Increasing price competitiveness, and aggressive cultivation and promotion from the major producing nations have given way to widespread soybean growth-both in terms of production as well as consumption.
United States is the major producer of soybean in the World. It accounts for approximately 36% of World soybean production with an annual production of 91.4 million tons in 2009/10, followed by Brazil 67.5 million tons of annual production. Argentina, China and India with 54, 14.5 and 8.75 million tons of production, contribute to 21%, 6% and 3% of World production, respectively in 2009/10.
China is the major importer of soybean in the World, followed by EU-27 nations, Japan and Mexico.
United States is the major exporter of soybean in the World, followed by Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
Indian Scenario
India is the 5th largest producer of soybean in the world. The Soybean Production in India is approximately 9.67 million tons in 2009/10. The states of MP, Maharashtra and Rajasthan contribute 95% of the total soybean produced in India.
Factors influencing Soybean prices
On a broader scale, the following factors affect Soybean prices worldwide.
  • Expected demand: Average level of consumption and exports during the past few years 
  • Production: Estimated output based on the acreage and weather conditions and pest infestation etc. of India as well other major countries producing soybeans
  • Carryover stocks: Leftover stocks from the previous year’s production after meeting the demand 
  • Crop acreage: Extent of area sown under the crop
  • International prices: CBOT Soy complex price movement, DCE Soybean price movement and estimates released by domestic and global agencies
  • Imports and exports: In case of edible oils, the traders need to know the details of important sources and destinations of the external trade. In case of Soy meal the information regarding the world demand and production estimates of key soybean producing countries like Argentina and Brazil needs to be analyzed
  • Government policies and intervention
  • Procurement: Direct procurement by the government agencies and storage in warehouses