THE Philippines was the top export destination for soybean cake and meal from the United States in the week to April 11, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which sees a burgeoning market due to the growth in meat consumption and the consequent need for animal feed.

The USDA weekly export sales report noted that soybean cake and meal exports were up 57% from the previous week, and up 63% from the prior four weeks’ average.

“The destinations were primarily to the Philippines (75,600 MT), Mexico (54,400 MT), South Korea (52,500 MT), Colombia (47,700 MT), and the Dominican Republic (35,800 MT),” the agency said in the report.

Soybean meal (SBM) is primarily used to feed farm animals.

US Customs data show that SBM imports by the Philippines from th US totaled $888 million in 2018, making it the largest market for US SBM. The Global Trade Atlas estimates that the US accounts for 84% of the Philippines’ SBM imports.

The USDA said in its Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report that demand for SBM in the Philippines is expected to increase to 3.15 million tons in milling year (MY) 2019-2020 “as local livestock and poultry raisers capitalize on the growing consumption of meat and meat products, driven by an expanding economy and rising incomes.”

According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the economy expanded by 6.1% in the fourth quarter of 2018, bringing 2018 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth to 6.2%. At the beginning of 2019, the government said that it is keeping its 7-8% growth target for the year.

“Next to rice, which accounts for over a fourth of total agricultural output, hog and chicken production contributed the most to Philippine agricultural output in 2018 with shares of 15% and 9%, respectively. Both industries continue to consolidate and modernize,” the USDA said.

Specifically, it noted that livestock grew by 1.9%, year-on-year, with hog production growing by 2.4%, while poultry output grew by 5.8%, year-on-year, with chicken production expanding by 5.2%.

“Hog feeds account for an estimated 60% of overall feed production; poultry feeds are roughly 25%, and aquaculture and other animal feeds comprise 15%,” it said.

The USDA said that domestic SBM production is still insignificant and the industry is very much dependent on imports, and that it expects no change in SBM output from MY 2019-2020.

Citing the 2019 Alltech Global Feed Survey, the Philippines together with Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand, account for 93% of the feed production in Southeast Asia, but the region’s feed output accounts for only 20% of Asia-Pacific production. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang