ANKARA, TURKEY — With domestic production declining and consumption on the rise, Turkey has become one of the world’s leading importers of soybeans and soybean meal.

A Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, released June 26, forecast 2018-19 soybean planted area and production at 26,000 hectares and 95,000 tonnes, respectively.

It noted that in the Cukurova region, where 95% of the local soybean crop is planted, soybeans have to compete with wheat, corn and cotton.

“Farmers in the Cukurova region are planting more cotton due to attractive returns, which consequently reduced soybean planted area,” USDA said.

Total soybean imports during the first eight months of marketing year 2017-18 were 1.6 million tonnes, up about 28% compared to the same period last year due to lucrative crushing margins, the USDA said.

The leading supplier is Ukraine with 520,000 tonnes, followed by the United States with 410,000 tonnes, up about 55% from the previous year due to attractive prices relative to other suppliers, the report said.

“Ukraine became the leading supplier of soybeans to Turkey in recent years, benefiting from geographical proximity and favorable pricing,” the USDA said.