Soybeans can be consumed directly as food, and in China they are the
major ingredient in food products such as tofu and soy milk, but direct
consumption is small relative to their wider use in animal feed, and it is the
requirement for livestock feed that drives international trade. Rapid growth of
economies and population, especially in Asia, has led to increased demand for animal
protein and cooking oil. This paper analyses the recent growth in supply of
soybeans from North and South America to China, and considers the factors that
may affect this trade in future; a contrast is made with supply from North and
South America to Europe, which has not been increasing. The constraints
preventing an increase in supply of soybeans to Europe are reviewed. The paper
concludes with brief discussion of the factors which will affect world markets
for soybeans and soybean products in future.
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