US soybean exporters have ceded considerable business to Brazilian competitors, in what is typically the prime season for US shipments.
Brazil’s soybean exports were 80% higher in November than a year earlier, and are up 32% since the beginning of September, a period when US exports usually dominate, as a new soybean crop is harvested. This year, however, Brazil, the world’s largest soybean producer and exporter, is digging into its plentiful soybean stocks to increase exports mainly to China, even before its next harvest in February.
View Gro’s Brazil Soybean Monitor display, with ready-to-use information on yield estimates, growing conditions, and a supply and demand balance sheet.
US soybean export sales commitments are down 29% from a year ago, suggesting the US will be hard pressed to reach the 2.050 billion bushels (55.8 million tonnes) forecasted for 2021/22 by the USDA, unless China returns to the US for significant quantities.
A slowdown in US exports could leave farmers with excess supply. But US soybean processors might benefit as local cash prices soften while global prices remain relatively firm. Roughly half of all soybeans grown in the US are exported, a higher percentage than for corn, leaving soybeans vulnerable to global factors such as transportation disruptions.
China turned to Brazilian soybeans in September after US Gulf facilities were damaged by Hurricane Ida, causing shipping delays. China has continued to favor Brazilian soybeans due to their competitive price and greater availability. Lower freight costs from Brazil to China more than make up for FOB soybean prices that are slightly higher in Brazil than at the US Gulf.
Brazil soybeans could give US exporters a run for their money well into 2022. Favorable weather enabled early planting of the current crop, which could allow Brazil to harvest some of its soybeans as soon as January. Gro expects Brazil’s soybean exports to reach a record for the current marketing year that ends January 31, and another record for next year, based on forecasted production. To learn more about Gro’s Global Soybean Balance Sheet, which includes export forecasts, contact email@example.com.
A caveat is this year’s return of La Niña, which is bringing warm and dry conditions to southern Brazil, especially Rio Grande do Sul, the second-largest soybean producing state. Beginning mid-December, Gro users at the Premium subscription level can monitor Gro’s Brazil Soybean Yield Forecast Model for a read on in-season production and its impact on price.