WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Soybean imports are expected to reach 2.42 million tonnes, reflecting additional crush capacity, as well as strong soybean meal and oil demand, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) said in a March 31 report.

The increase in imports in market year 2016-17 is due to rising demand from consumers who are seeking affordable high quality blended oil, as well as the growth in protein-based feed demand. Feed demand by the poultry, livestock and aquaculture sectors is expected to grow by approximately 4.4% in market year 2016-17.

In calendar year 2015, Brazil was the largest supplier of soybeans to Egypt at 550,000 tonnes, followed by Argentina at 540,000 tonnes, and the U.S. at 480,000 tonnes. Other origins include Canada, Uruguay, Paraguay and Ukraine. For 2015 and the first quarter of 2016, trade was negatively affected by government restrictions on access to foreign currencies. As many oilseed importers were unable to secure dollars and open letters of credit through official channels, they turned to unofficial parallel markets in order to acquire the currency.

In the first quarter of 2016, ambrosia presence in imported soybeans has led to a handful of vessels being required to screen their cargoes in port or to outright rejections of these vessels, as Egypt’s Ministry of Agriculture’s quarantine office continues to categorize this weed seed as a toxin.

The report forecasts an increase in total soybean meal consumption of 4.4% in market year 2016-17, driven by the growing poultry, livestock and aquaculture sectors. Total oil consumption, including food and industrial use, is expected to grow by 2.96% in market year 2016-17, due to the addition of 3 million beneficiaries to the domestic food subsidy program and a food processing sector that is growing by more than 12%.