Unveiling The Global Soy Supply Chain From Field To Fork

The global soy supply chain is a series of processes contributing to how soy is transported from one point in the world to another. Since soy started growing in popularity because of the healthy lifestyle thrill in popular culture, the demand for good systems to supply soy worldwide has grown.

This presents numerous avenues for business, especially for those in the logistics sector. Thus, understanding the workings of this sector is essential for anyone who wants to join and thrive in the soy business.

This article discusses how soy is planted, its processing, transportation, and trade until it gets to the consumer’s plate. We break down some of the most important elements of this value chain to present a wholesome understanding of the global soy supply chain.

Soy Cultivation And Farming

It is impossible to think about the global soy supply chain without looking at the amazing work farmers put into growing the crop. The actual farming season lasts about 20 weeks, from planting to the harvest. However, most of the work happens right at the beginning and towards the end of the season.

When working on their farms, soy farmers prepare the fields in the early days of the season and get the seeds they will use. They then plant the seeds and hope for a plentiful harvest.

All through the season, you will also find farmers going through the farm to remove weeds and check on the crops’ progress. Elsewhere, especially in countries where rain is not predictable, farmers also water the farm and add fertilizers and nutrients to compensate for the low rainfall.

Challenges Associated With Soy Farming

Soy farming comes with its share of challenges. Farmers have to grapple with problems such as pests and diseases, the availability of land, weeds, and climate change every year. As you would expect, these challenges affect the availability of the crop, where some countries suffer shortages in food.

As such, some countries try to prepare their farmers for such challenges by teaching them how to navigate unpleasant farming situations using technology and science-based soy farming.

Soy Processing

Soybeans are always ready for human consumption once the farmer harvests them and ships them worldwide. However, for other products such as soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, and textured soy products, the crop must undergo some processing to be fit for use.

Basically, soy processors convert their raw materials to a new form in a manufacturing plant. This depends on the type of end product that the processing plant manufacturers. Most soy processors are in the West in countries such as the US, Germany, and the UK, while others are in China.

Transportation And Logistics

Have you ever wondered how soy products from countries like China get to your table in the US? Soy logistics start from the farmers’ stores, where the crop is packed in bags and transported to the nearest port.

However, some of the crop is sold in the local markets for local consumption. Once at the ports, the crop is packed into containers such as those below and shipped to their destination. The same process is replicated for processed soy products, although the highly perishable ones are transported to their destinations via airfreight.

The Global Soy Market

The global soy market involves numerous players of varying influence. Some of the world’s largest producers of soy which account for at least 50% of the entire supply, are in North and South America.

On the other side of the divide are the world’s largest soy importers and their products. These include countries such as China, Mexico, Thailand, Egypt, and Argentina which buy soy and soy products in large volumes. China is the world’s largest importer, accounting for 61% of the global imports from all exporters.

Soy Consumption

Once soy produce reaches the market, consumers can purchase them in different forms depending on their preferences. In its natural state, soy is consumed as soybeans or in the slightly premature form of edamame pods.

On the other hand, you can also get processed products of soy which include:

  • Soy sauce
  • Miso
  • Soy milk
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • Natto

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, our discussion on the global soy supply chain has put you a little close to identifying your niche in this growing industry. This transformative sector depends on a steady crop stream to furnish the market’s needs. But the process should also be as good as its genesis.

This means that as all farmers must work to produce quality crops, logistics managers should work towards increasing efficiency in transportation so that the final product gets to the consumer in time. Therefore, all global supply chain participants should work harmoniously to achieve the best results!