Soybeans: Facts and Figures

Posted February 15th, 2012 at 10:05 pm (UTC-5)
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China is expected to sign deals to buy 12 million metric tons of soybeans during Vice President Xi Jinping’s visit this week.

What they are:

*An edible bean high in protein cultivated in China as many as 3000 years ago. The bean has been used in a number of traditional Asian foods, including soy sauce, tofu and edamame.

Where they grow:

*Nearly 260 million metric tons of soybeans were produced worldwide in 2010. The U.S. grew the largest percentage — more than a third — followed by Brazil and Argentina.

What they are used for:

*Besides the traditional Asian foods, soybeans today are processed into a variety of products:

— Soybean oil: soybeans are about 18% oil, which can be extracted and is used in margarine, mayonnaise, in cooking, and to pack canned food, like tuna.

— Soybean meal: the high-protein meal left over after the oil is extracted is a major component of livestock feed.

— Biodeisel: remove the glycerine from soybean oil and what remains is soy biodeisel, which can be used as an energy source.

— Soymilk: a beverage made by straining out liquid after soybeans are soaked and ground up in water.

* Soybeans also can be used to make:

— Wax (used in crayons and candles)

— Inks

— Asphalt

— Lotion

Where do they go:

* China is the world’s largest importer of soybeans, accounting for nearly 60% of the soybeans sold worldwide.

* The European Union is the second largest importer of soybeans and the world’s largest importer of soybean meal.

* India also is a growing consumer of soybeans, which are a cheap source of protein for its surging population. But the government limits imports of soybean products, in preference to domestic suppliers.

* The U.S. is the world’s largest soybean exporter, but also is a large soybean consumer.