BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Illinois Soybean Association representatives recently shared with Consul General of Pakistan, Chicago, the state’s farmers are interested in a stronger relationship that could lead to more soybean sales. Pakistan is the world’s sixth most populous country with a growing middle class and rising animal protein demand.
“We want the Pakistanis to know that Illinois soybean farmers are open for business and ready to meet their increasing food and feed demand,” said Rick Rubenacker, ISA Market Development Committee chairman and soybean farmer from McLeansboro. “Illinois farmers produce a consistent, high-quality soybean crop, and we discussed with the delegates the edge that gives us over our competitors to efficiently fill their various market needs.”
ISA implemented a new strategic plan this month that includes two market development objectives. The board approved projects that will identify key existing global and domestic markets with opportunity for substantial growth, including Pakistan, and projects that increase the number of new global and domestic markets that can be created for Illinois soybeans.
Pakistan’s Consul General Javed Umrani said Pakistan imports mostly whole soybeans and makes value-added soy products for export. ISA and the Consul General agreed to further enhance cooperation through an exchange of delegations after the pandemic subsides.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. soybean exports to Pakistan peaked in the 2017-2018 marketing year at 1.73 million metric tons, representing 73% of total Pakistan purchases. That was up from 314,000 metric tons in 2014-2015. From October 2019 to July 2020, the United States exported 994,000 metric tons of soybeans, a 34% increase from the same period the previous year.
“Demand is expected to continue to grow, specifically in the poultry industry,” Rubenacker said. “Pakistan’s poultry meat production is expanding, and soybean meal is a key feed ingredient. Producers are increasing their meal inclusion rates in poultry feeds, approaching the international standard of 35 percent. As Pakistan increases production capacity at its soybean crushing facilities, the U.S. will have an even greater opportunity to export soybeans to the country.”
Aquaculture is also an important industry in Pakistan, Rubenacker said, which provides a potential market for U.S. soybeans as a protein source in fish feed rations.
USDA has forecast nearly 9% growth for overall soybean imports to Pakistan during the 2020-2021 marketing year, with total anticipated soybean demand of 2.5 million metric tons.