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Describes The Global Market For Refined Soybean Oil

Soybean is an essential protein, food, and oil source and is used widely worldwide. The world’s most influential countries with the highest soybean production rate include the USA, Brazil, Argentina, China, and India. Soybean can be grown in many environments, using various management practices and for different end-user purposes.  

In 2018, roughly 398 million tons of soybeans were produced globally, which accounted for 61% of overall oilseed production and 6% of the world’s arable land use. The USA contributed approximately 50% of this global supply. The global soybean oil market alone reached 51 million tons in 2020.  

Due to the exponential demand and use of refined soybean oil in the global market, more understanding of the market and research is needed to increase its yield sustainably.  


Current Global Market Outlook 

The increasing use of refined soybean oil by food processors and food service operators for fried and fried, baked food products or to sell as cooking oil in retail markets fuels the market growth. The biodiesel industry, also recently developed in various countries, has begun to utilize fat to produce environmentally friendly renewable energy.  

Soybeans are desired in the marketplace as a valuable source of protein and oil. The soybean protein is primarily used as feed, with some food applications, while the soybean oil is more broadly incorporated into food, livestock feed, and industrial applications like biodiesel.  


Oil and Protein percentages in soybean, influenced by both genotype and environmental cues, average approximately 20% and 40%, respectively. There exists a robust indirect phenotypic correlation between these traits. Additionally, the variation in soybean germplasm for protein content is significantly more significant than that observed for total oil content. 

Over the years, soybean breeders have used complete protein content as a selection criterion for germplasm development. However, oil content and quality have recently drawn much attention in soybean genetics and breeding programs due to the increased demand for vegetable oils and increased consumer awareness of health issues around dietary fats. 

Significant efforts are in progress to improve the oxidative stability of refined soybean oil. These efforts will avoid trans-fats generated through the hydrogenation process, enhance the oil’s Omega 3 fatty acid content for use in both food and feed applications, and increase the total oil content of seeds. 


Properties and Applications of Soybean

The soybean industry is driven by increasing demand for soybean meal for livestock products. Consequently, there has been a considerable rise in soy oil production and demand for refined soybean oil. The prime advantages of soy oil include competitive prices, easy availability, environment-friendly, and various nutritional benefits, which stimulate its consumption. 

Most of the world’s soybeans are processed or crushed yearly to produce soybean meal and oil, while the remaining are used directly for human consumption.  

The soybean industry can be divided into food, Industrial, and livestock feed based on end-use. The food sector represents the primary end-use sector, followed by the industrial and livestock feed sector. 


Rising Utilization of Refined Soybean Oil 

The global food industry has evolved tremendously in the past few years, with COVID-19 being just one of several factors. Moreover, the development of the edible oil sector is also primarily driven by the demand for cooking oils in retail aisles.  

Consequently, the increase in demand for plant-based foods in place of lard has increased the utilization of soybean oil. The emerging trend of vitamin-fortified, non-GMO, organic oils among consumers to make healthy food is driving the market growth to the next level. 


Increasing Utilization in Production of Biofuel

Biofuel is an emerging sector due to the rising concerns related to non-renewable energy sources. Several countries are actively investing in the production of biofuels. The increased biodiesel production capacity significantly impacts the global demand for soybean-derived oil. Using the oil as feedstock for biodiesel production provides a higher BTU and burns more cleanly and efficiently. The U.S. government offers a subsidy of USD 1 per gallon to biodiesel producers that produce biodiesel from virgin vegetable oil feedstock. 

A report published by the USDA has reported that the use of refined soybean oil for biofuel production is forecasted to go up in the future. The increasing investments by the governments of various fuel producers and countries to improve the biodiesel production process are anticipated to further increase the demand for refined soybean oil in the upcoming years. 


Expanding Application Scope in Food Sector

The refined oil and fats sector has seen promising growth worldwide. This growth is attributed to their rising use in food processing and manufacturing. According to the USDA, refined soybean oil is the second-largest consumed vegetable oil in the world. It is extensively utilized for shortening, cooking, frying, and as margarine.  

The growing consumer knowledge and awareness regarding its health benefits ultimately propel the market growth. Refined soybean oil is one of the leading poly-unsaturated cooking oils. It has a high smoke point (257°C), which enables setting oil at higher temperatures for deep frying. Its higher shelf life drives its utilization in food service and food processing industries. 


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered that all food manufacturers remove partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) from their products. The oil manufacturers actively invested in the interesterification of high oleic soy oil to develop shortenings that closely match the properties of PHO. 


Bottom Line 

Though the market is impacted by the availability of other oilseeds that can be an alternative to refined soybean oil, soybean oil is still in great demand worldwide. As per the current market trends, refined soybean oil production and usage will enormously increase in the upcoming years.  


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