USDA predicts increased soybean oil use in biofuel production

By Erin Voegele | May 12, 2023

The USDA predicts more soybean oil will go to biofuel production in 2023-’24, according to forecasts made in the agency’s latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, released May 12. Soybean oil prices are expected to be down slightly.

The 2023-‘24 outlook for U.S. soybeans is for higher supplies, crush, and ending stocks, and lower exports compared with 2022-‘23. The soybean crop is projected at 4.51 billion bushels, up 5 percent from last year’s crop mainly on higher yields. With lower beginning stocks partly offsetting increased production, soybean supplies are forecast at 4.75 billion bushels, up 4 percent from 2022-‘23. Total U.S. oilseed production for 2023-‘24 is projected at 132.8 million tons, up 6.9 million from 2022-‘23 mainly on higher soybean production. 

The U.S. soybean crush for 2023-‘24 is projected at 2.31 billion bushels, up 90 million from the 2022-‘23 forecast on favorable crush margins and strong demand for soybean oil as a biofuel feedstock, which is projected to reach 12.5 billion pounds, up from 11.6 billion pounds in 2022-’23, and 10.348 billion pounds in 2021-’22.

Domestic soybean meal disappearance is forecast to increase 2 percent from 2022-‘23 on lower soybean meal prices and modest growth primarily in poultry production. U.S. soybean meal exports are forecast at 14.8 million short tons, leaving the U.S share of global trade slightly above the prior five-year average. U.S. soybean exports are forecast at 1.98 billion bushels, down 40 million from 2022-‘23 with strong competition from increasing South American production and limited gains in global import demand. U.S. ending stocks for 2023-‘24 are projected at 335 million bushels, up 120 million from the revised 2022-‘23 forecast.

Soybean and product prices are all forecast lower for 2023-‘24. The 2023-‘24 U.S. season-average soybean price is forecast at $12.10 per bushel compared with $14.20 per bushel in 2022-‘23. Soybean meal prices are forecast at $365 per short ton, down $90. Soybean oil prices are forecast at 58 cents per pound, down 6 cents from 2022-‘23.

Globally, the 2023-‘24 soybean trade is expected to grow 4 million tons to 172.4 million, reflecting increased demand by China and higher imports for Pakistan, Egypt, and Bangladesh after last marketing year’s declines. China’s imports are expected to rise 2 million tons to 100.0 million, a slower rate than the prior decade. With projected weaker growth for China and EU soybean imports, coupled with record South American supplies, the U.S. share of global exports is expected to decline.

Global 2023-‘24 soybean ending stocks are projected up 21.5 million tons to 122.5 million, with most of the increase for Brazil, Argentina, the U.S., and China. The ending stocks figure includes mid-season stocks (Sept. 30, 2024) for Brazil and Argentina and reflects growing supplies leading into the 2024 U.S. export season.


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