BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — The United States has cemented its position as the leading supplier of soybeans to the European Union, according to new data from the European Commission (EC). In an update issued Jan. 7, the EC said imports of U.S. soybeans by the E.U. totaled 5.2 million tonnes in July-December 2018, up 112% from the same period a year earlier.

The increase in U.S. soybean imports follows a meeting last July between U.S. President Donald Trump and EC President Jean-Claude Juncker laid the groundwork for reduced barriers and increased trade.

Overall, the United States accounted for 75% of E.U. soybean imports during the July-December 2018 period, followed by Brazil (19%), Canada (2%), Ukraine (1.6%) and Paraguay (1%). In July-December 2017, the United States accounted for 39% of the E.U.’s total soybean imports.

“European imports of U.S. soya beans are bound to increase even further, following the decision by the European Commission to launch the process for authorizing the use of U.S. soybeans for biofuels,” the EC said.

The E.U. imports about 14 million tonnes of soybeans per year. The commodity primarily is used as a source of protein for animals, as well as for milk production.

The EC said U.S. soybeans are an attractive feed option for European importers and users “thanks to their competitive prices.”