HANOI, VIETNAM — A recovering economy in Vietnam will see the country boost its consumption of soybean meal for feed use to 5.85 million tonnes during marketing year 2023-24, which would be 200,000 tonnes over the previous year, and up to a projected 6 million tonnes in 2024-25, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture.

The March 28 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report forecast an increase in soybean imports in 2023-24 and 2024-25 for both crush and food use, while soybean meal imports are expected to dip to 4.7 million tonnes from 4.9 million due to higher domestic crush capacity in 2024-25.

Soybean imports for 2023-24 are seen at 2.25 million tonnes and 2.5 million tonnes the following marketing year. This reflects the projected additional capacity from both the new crush facility in the south, and increased capacity at existing crushers in the south and the north.

According to Vietnam Customs, the country’s soybean imports as of Dec. 31, 2023, reached 1.86 million tonnes, the FAS said, remaining flat compared to the same period the previous year. Brazil was the largest soybean exporter with 53.1% of the market share and the United States held 36.5%.

Vietnam’s domestic soybean production is small and shrinking with 45,000 tonnes estimated for 2023-24 and 42,000 projected for 2024-25 on a planted area of 28,000 and 26,500 hectares respectively.

“This long-term decline is due to domestic production being less competitive compared to imported soybeans, leading local farmers to switch to more profitable crops such as fruit and vegetables,” the FAS said.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) monthly report noted that the total swine population increased by 4% and the total poultry flock rose by 3% in 2023. The FAS is projecting the pace of animal production in Vietnam will increase as the economy continues to gain strength.

Total feed demand in 2023-24 is forecast to increase to 26.5 million tonnes due to a projected rebound in demand for aquafeed. The FAS sees total feed demand in 2024-25 increasing to 27 million tonnes as Vietnam’s economy rebounds, particularly in industrial zones, tourism and services sectors.

Soybean meal is the major protein source in all aqua and animal feed formulations in Vietnam, ranging from a 15% to 35% share of the total ingredients.