THE CONTINUING RISE OF SOY

Soy production has more than doubled over the last two decades, and is continuing to increase at a rapid rate.

Soy has been cultivated for thousands of years in East Asia, and was considered sacred in ancient Chinese mythology. Though it was introduced to Europe and North America in the 18th century, mainly as a forage crop, soy wasn’t grown on a significant scale outside Asia until relatively recently. The growth of soy production in the last decade has been spectacular with the land dedicated to cultivating soy more than tripling since 1970. This expansion is predicted to continue well into the current century.

  • In 1996 the world produced 130 million tonnes of soy; by 2050 it’s expected to hit 515 million tonnes.
  • China has the highest rate of soy consumption, a rate that has doubled in the last decade, from 26.7 million tonnes in 2000 to 55 million tonnes in 2009, of which 41 million tonnes were imported.
  • China’s imports are projected to increase by 59% by 2021/22.
The challenge is clear: we are going to be growing more soy, and will need more land to grow it on.

Current and projected development of soy bean and meat production 1961-2020


Global soy production
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Most of the world's soy crop ends up as feed for poultry, pork and cattle. © Anton Vorauer/WWF

 

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