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U.S. soybean meal demand expected to increase through aquaculture

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The growing aquaculture market creates new opportunities for soybean farmers and to explore the economic impact further, the Soy Aquaculture Alliance recently commissioned a 2020 report “Potential Economic Value of Growth of U.S. Aquaculture to U.S. Soybean Farmers.”

The study explored the effects of increased growth of U.S. aquaculture relative to increased demand for soybeans. Total soybean demand in U.S. aquaculture for 2018 was estimated to be 8.6 million bushels. The combined potential demand from the growth projections in the analysis was 16.7 million bushels, with a possible range of 10.2 million bushels to 25.1 million bushels, over the next five years.

Researchers examined soybean inclusion rates in feeds for various aquatic species to estimate the long-term impact on meal value. Inclusion rates in feed formulations typically follow a least-cost basis, meaning ratios vary as ingredient costs vary – because of such variation, the study evaluated typical ranges of ingredient ratios.

Soybean meal inclusion rates also vary depending on the aquatic species. One objective of the study looked to determine species with potential for more inclusion and factor that into growing meal demand. Diets for salmon and marine fish showed great potential for increased inclusion rates of soybean products. For these species, an additional 152,995 bushels of soybeans are expected to be demanded by 2024, based on a calculated average inclusion rate of soy products at 15%.

U.S. catfish is the largest sector of aquaculture in terms of the overall share of aquaculture species and the highest inclusion rates in consumption. Catfish feed uses higher percentages of soybean meal than that of any terrestrial livestock at 35% inclusion. The study concluded that the growth of the U.S. catfish industry can have a major impact on increasing the overall demand for U.S. soybeans.

The cooperative efforts of SAA alongside the United Soybean Board, American Soybean Association and U.S. Soybean Export Council continue to boost aquaculture’s economic impact on soybeans.

Download the report here.

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