WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Peru’s soybean meal imports in market year 2017 (Jan-Dec 2017) are estimated at 1.13 million tonnes, up 1% compared to the previous year, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service in a March 1 report. 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.

Soybean meal import demand is fueled by Peru’s dynamic poultry industry. Peruvians currently consume about 55 million birds per month. Poultry meat constitutes one of Peru’s most affordable sources of animal protein, and an estimated 1.5 million tonnes was consumed in 2015. 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 54% 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. Soybean meal from all origins enters Peru duty-free.

Peru continues to encourage anti-biotechnology (biotech) policies. Peru published a regulation in 2012 establishing a 10-year moratorium on planting biotech crops and animals for reproductive purposes. This law eliminated the biosafety protocol, which had been drafted and cleared by the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment.

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 commodities such as corn and soybean meal, these products still must undergo a costly and unnecessary risk assessment. Although the moratorium is in place, the Ministry of Environment has not implemented the parameters of this law, including monitoring, enforcement and any penalties assessed on the local industry.

Peru’s Consumer Code includes mandatory labeling requirements for GE products. 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. If this regulation were approved, it would be extremely difficult to enforce. There are at least 30,000 different products currently on Peruvian supermarket shelves contain GE content. This measure will impose an excessive burden on industry.