Record amounts of soya beans and meal will be shipped from
South America this year, following ideal weather conditions.
All-time record soya crops in both Brazil and Argentina and
large crops in Paraguay and Bolivia as well, will result in about
48mt (million tonnes) of beans and 44mt of meal being exported
from the region this year.
   This compares with the 33mt of beans and 39mt of meal
shipped from these countries in 2009.
Almost perfect weather in all the widely scattered places
where 23 million hectares were planted to soya in Brazil last year,
5% more than in 2008, has resulted in record yields averaging
more than 2.8 tonnes per hectare. Several of the producing
states where two-thirds of the crops are planted, have had yields
of more than three tonnes/hectare
   Estimates are still being revised upwards, but a crop of at least
66mt, 9mt more than last year and 6mt more than the previous
record of 2008, now seems guaranteed in Brazil.
   As a result, Brazil will export more than 28mt of beans, 2mt
more than estimated in December last year and 2mt more than
the previous record, as well as about 13mt of meal this year.
Argentina, where severe drought reduced the soya crop to
only 32mt last year, expects an all time record 53mt this year, the
first time more than 50mt have ever been harvested in the
country. A total of 46mt was harvested in Argentina in 2008.
Less than a million tonnes of soya meal is used as animal feed
in Argentina, compared with the 12mt consumed in Brazil.
Argentina will crush about 36mt of beans this year, 3mt more
than in 2008 and will export 12mt of beans compared with only
3mt in 2009. About 27mt of meal will be exported, 2mt more
than in 2009.
   Argentina is the world’s leading exporter of both meal, and in
normal years 48% of the total traded comes from there. In
addition 50% of all the soya oil traded around the world is
produced in Argentina.
   China has become the leading destination for the soya beans
exported from Latin America in the past few years. Brazil
shipped 16mt of beans to there last year, compared with 11.8mt
in 2008.
   Thailand, Japan and Taiwan were other important customers
for Brazilian beans in Asia in 2008, between them taking about
   In common with Argentina, a large proportion of the meal
exported from Brazil went to countries in the EU, of which the
Netherlands and France were the leading importers in 2009, each
taking about 2.5mt.
   Apart from the EU, South Korea, Thailand and Iran were
important customers for Brazilian meal, between them buying
about 2mt.
   Santos is now Brazil’s leading export port for beans, and
almost 9mt is shipped from there, compared with 4.6mt passing
through Paranagua and Rio Grande last year. But as plantations
have fanned out to the north and west of the country, the Port
of Vitoria in Espirito Santo state, linked by rail to Minas Gerais
and the centre west, is gaining ground. The port at Sao Luis
handles most of the beans produced in Maranhao, Piaui, and
Tocantins states, while Ilheus, previously known for cocoa,
handles beans grown in Bahia.
   Most of the beans grown in Rondonia, and the north of Mato
Grosso leave via the Amazon river port of Itacoatiara, taken
there by barge. Some beans are now being shipped from the
Amazon river port of Santarem as well, and many more will be
once a road south to Mato Grosso state is paved.
   Because most of Brazil’s crushing facilities are located in the
south or centre west of the country, the port of Paranagua in
Parana state still dominates the export of meal. Five million
tonnes left from there last year, compared with 2mt each from
Santos, Vitoria and Sao Francisco do Sul.
   As new crushing facilities are built further north, Ilheus and at
later date, Sao Luis will start handling meal as well.
Almost three quarter of the soya grown in Argentina is
planted in the provinces of Santa Fe, Córdoba, Entre Rios and
other provinces further north, most within 400km of the Rio
Parana. A total of 120,000 tonnes of Argentina’s total crushing
capacity of 155,000 tonnes a day is concentrated in this area,
with most of the soya meal and beans leaving from terminals at
the RosaFe complex.
   Most of the 12mt of beans grown in Buenos Aires province
leaves from the deep water port of Bahia Blanca, most in the
form of meal.
Draught restrictions along the River Parana restrict the
amount of soya which can be loaded at RosaFe. Most vessels take
on only part cargoes at ‘up river’ ports in Argentine, to complete
loading either at Bahia Blanca, near Buenos Aires or in Paranagua,
Rio Grande or Sao Francisco do Sul in Brazil.
   More than half of the 28mt of soya meal exported from
Argentina in 2008 went to EU member countries, more than 4mt
to countries in Asia, 2.5mt went to countries in Africa, and slightly
more than 2mt to other countries in Latin America, notably
those on the Pacific seaboard.
   Almost 9mt of the 12mt of soya beans exported by Argentina
in 2008 were destined for China, while 1.6mt went to countries
in the Middle East and about 400,000 tonnes went to other
countries in Asia.
Patrick Knight