Could a Soybean Shortage Be Looming?

July 15, 2016 04:00 AM
Could a Soybean Shortage Be Looming?

Could South American crop shortfalls lead to a worldwide soybean shortage? 

It’s a possibility, according to Dan Basse, president of AgResource  Co. “Brazil and Argentina are out," Basse said. "The focus now is on next year and the new crop in March through April."

That's good news for American farmers, since only they can fill the supply gap in demand for soybeans, especially from China.

Basse said that roughly six to seven million metric tons of soybeans will have to be shipped from the U.S., the only other major soybean producer.  U.S. production in August through September is still an unknown, with concerns over hot weather.

Pedro H. Dejneka, president of AgrBrasil, a division of AgResource, said South America's unfavorable weather had caused a “massive reduction in total (South American) crop size, given the continued strong demand by the Chinese and others. 

Currently, there are still more than 60 MMTs of soybean ending stocks worldwide. 

But weather was tough this season for South America, hurting soybean and corn production in Brazil, where drought-like conditions withered corn. Widespread flooding decreased soybean production in Argentina and caused shipping delays. Additionally, corn shortages in Brazil, caused by large exports amid production cuts, will force poultry producers in the country to decrease their production by about four percent, according to a Reuters report.

The timing of planting period for Brazil’s new crop soybeans will be critical, especially if La Nina delays planting, which starts in September, according to the newsletter.

The next new crop harvest for soybeans in South America will be in February of 2017, Dejneka observed.

As the year progresses, here are the key South American numbers as reported in USDA's July report:

  • Brazil’s old-crop soybean 2015/16 production was 96.50 MMT, and Argentina’s was 56.50 MMT.
  • Brazil’s new soybean crop 2016/17 was estimated at 103.00 MMT, with Argentina’s soybean production at 57.00 MMT.
  • Brazil’s old crop 2015/16 corn production was lowered 7.5 million tons to 70.0 MMT, with Argentina’s old crop corn increased by 1.0 MMT at 28 MMT.
  • Brazil’s new 2016/17 corn crop was estimated at 80.0 MMT, while Argentina’s was pegged at 34 MMT.
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