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The Whole Grains Story: Soybeans #WhereDoGrainsGo

Soybean pod ready for harvest

Soybeans are the largest field crop in Ontario. On average, 2.5-3 million acres are planted each year producing 3-3.5 million metric tonnes. Ontario is also the largest producing province of soybeans in Canada – on average, farmers here grow 57% of Canada’s total soybean production.

Ontario soybean production graphic

In terms of global production, Canada is a minor player, producing less than 2% of the global supply. Global production is driven by the United States and South America.

For more than 20 years, Ontario has produced commodity soybeans destined for oil crush markets along with food grade soybeans destined for export markets and the development of various soy foods. Within the province, approximately 74% of production is commodity soybeans with the remaining 26% being food grade soybeans.

Unlike barley, corn, oats, and wheat, the majority of Ontario soybeans are exported. With 59% of Ontario’s soybeans destined for international markets, every three in five rows of soybeans leave the province.

Commodity soybeans make up 76% of total soybean exports with key markets being China, the European Union, and the United States. Food-grade soybeans make up 24% of exports and are destined for mostly Asian countries including Japan, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Food-grade soybeans are used in a variety of different soy food applications including tofu, miso, natto, and soy beverages.

Domestic uses are also important for Ontario soybeans. Animal feed accounts for 77% of total domestic utilization. The main feed markets are swine, dairy cattle, and poultry followed by a very small percentage used in beef cattle. Soybean oil is the next largest market making up 16% of total domestic utilization. Soybean oil uses include food service (restaurants), food manufacturing, retail, vegetable oil, and industrial uses (such as biodiesel). The remaining 7% is used for seed purposes.

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