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US soybean ending stocks rise amid declining exports

Domestically, robust soybean crush volumes support steady production, despite the dip in exports.

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Sunny Soybean Field Growing

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) has raised the 2023/24 U.S. soybean ending stocks estimate to 340 million bushels in its Oil Crops Outlook: April 2024, citing reduced export commitments and increasing competition from South America. The latest forecast reveals a reduction in the soybean export forecast to 1.7 billion bushels, down by 20 million bushels from earlier projections.

Internationally, the demand for oilseeds is shifting noticeably. Global sunflowerseed and rapeseed crush figures have reached record highs for the marketing year 2023/24, driven by strong demand in biofuel sectors and competitive pricing in international markets. Notably, sunflowerseed oil trade is up, spurred by heightened imports by India, Egypt, and the European Union, where sunflowerseed oil prices remain attractive compared to other vegetable oils.

In the U.S., the soybean crush has maintained robust levels, with February witnessing a record-high monthly volume of 193.9 million bushels. This activity is expected to help meet the unchanged overall soybean crush forecast of 2.3 billion bushels for the year. Despite lower exports, the domestic demand for soybean oil continues to grow, with increased production and imports raising the U.S. soybean oil supply estimate for 2023/24 by 95 million pounds to 29.2 billion pounds.

Parallel to these trends, canola oil demand in the U.S. has surged, primarily fueled by its use in biofuel production. The U.S. canola crush for 2023/24 is forecast at a record 4.6 billion pounds, with significant imports from Canada reflecting robust North American integration in oilseed processing.

Furthermore, the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service's (NASS) Prospective Plantings report suggests that U.S. farmers plan to plant more soybeans in the coming year, with estimates showing an increase of 2.9 million acres compared to the previous year. This expansion is expected to occur at the expense of other crops like corn and wheat.

These developments come amid a backdrop of global and domestic challenges in the agricultural sector, including market competition and the dynamic demands of the biofuel industry. As the U.S. navigates these complex market conditions, the changes in oilseed processing and trade are likely to have significant implications for both producers and consumers in the agricultural and energy sectors.

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