Peru's soybean meal imports fueled by poultry industry

by Holly Demaree
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With a 52% import market share, low-cost producer Bolivia remains Peru’s main supplier of soybean meal.
Photo courtesy of the USDA/by Scott Bauer.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Peru does not grow soybeans in commercially significant quantities, nor does it currently produce soybean meal. Peru’s limited soybean crushing capabilities are dedicated solely to producing full fat soybean meal for feed purposes. The county’s soybean meal imports in market year 2017-18 are estimated at 1.23 million tonnes, up 1% from the previous year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service said in a Feb. 27 report.

Soybean meal import demand is fueled by Peru’s dynamic poultry industry. Peruvians currently consume about 55 million birds per month. According to the USDA, poultry meat constitutes one of Peru’s most affordable sources of animal protein, and an estimated 1.65 million tonnes was consumed in the 2016 calendar year. Poultry consumption in Peru is estimated at 46 kilograms per capita, with consumption as high as 70 kilograms per capita in Lima. Soybean meal constitutes about 12% of total broiler rations in Peru’s thousand plus poultry farms.

With a 52% import market share, low-cost producer Bolivia remains Peru’s main supplier of soybean meal, despite higher shipping costs than those offered by U.S. exporters, the report said. U.S. soybean meal exports to Peru increased 45% in market year 2016-17. The strong market for U.S. corn explains this increase since importers are able to combine vessel shipments of corn with soybeans. Soybean meal from all origins enters Peru duty-free.

In 2012, Peru established a 10-year biotechnology moratorium on planting biotech crops and animals for reproductive purposes. This law eliminated Peru’s biosafety protocol, which had been drafted and cleared by Peru’s Ministry of Agriculture and Environment.

According to the report, until this measure’s passage, the biosafety protocol established the legal framework for the research, production, and trade of genetically engineered (GE) crops. While the moratorium excludes imported commodities such as corn and soybean meal, these products still must undergo a costly risk assessment to enter the Peruvian market.

Peru’s Consumer Code includes mandatory labeling requirements for GE products. The USDA said that the initial draft of the regulation law establishes mandatory labeling with no minimum threshold level, forcing food processors to determine the amount of GE content by input. There are at least 30,000 different products currently on Peruvian supermarket shelves that contain GE content. The Peruvian food-processing sector asserts that if approved and enforced, the measure will impose an excessive burden on this industry.
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