WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The trend of increased Malaysian soybean imports is expected to continue this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service said in a March 16 report.

Imports increased slightly from 643,000 tonnes in 2014-15 to 650,000 tonnes in 2015-16 and are expected to rise to 653,000 tonnes in 2016-17. This is in line with projected population growth of 1.3% annually from year 2010-16 and thereafter projected at 1.2% till 2020. The U.S. remains the largest supplier of soybeans to Malaysia, while, for soybean meal, Argentina has over 95% market share.

Malaysia’s 2014-15 soybean imports, valued at $307 million, are in line with the projected slight increase in demand for swine and poultry feed, and also a slight increase in soy for direct human consumption. The U.S remains the top supplier of soybean commanding 44% of market share. Paraguay, Canada and Brazil are the other major suppliers to Malaysia.

Soybean crushing activity is growing in line with slow growth in the poultry industry. In 2015-16, crushing activity was at 450,000 tonnes and forecast to slightly increase to 455,000 tonnes in 2016-17. Most of the soybeans imported are for crushing to produce oil and meal for local consumption in the poultry industry. Human consumption only accounts for 25%, and is imported from Canada for the production of soy drinks and a local delicacy called tempe (a fermented soybean cake).

A labeling requirement for genetically engineered content went into effect in July 2014, but it has not been enforced yet. Under the genetically engineered labeling requirement, products that contain less than 3% genetically engineered content, and highly refined processed foods and meat from animals fed with genetically engineered grains are exempt from the genetically engineered labeling requirement.

Beginning in 2015, the Malaysian Department of Agriculture and the Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Service began to require that soybean importers obtain an import permit and that a phytosanitary certificate accompany all consignments. These new requirements did not cause any disruptions in U.S. soybean imports.