WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Although Japan’s long-term consumption of soybeans is expected to decrease due to a shrinking and aging population, the short term per-capita consumption outlook is fairly stable, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) said in April 7 report. 

All domestic soybeans are used for food and account for roughly a quarter of total soybean consumption. Japan’s domestic soybean production is driven by a policy to prevent the oversupply of rice. Soybean planted area and production in market year 2016-17 are forecast to remain at 140,000 hectares  and 240,000 tonnes as soybeans continue to offer better profit margins compared to other crops.

Despite a very gradual annual decline in Japanese demand for oil, the price competitiveness of domestic soybean meal vis-à-vis imported Chinese soybean meal is expect to result in increased soybean crush. The report forecasts that the 12% increase in soybean crush in market year 2015-16 will hold steady in market year 2016-17 at 2.4 million tonnes. 

Japan is expected to produce 1.825 million tonnes of soybean meal in both market year 2015-16 and market year 2016-17, and imports of soybean meal are expected to decrease 2% to 1.625 million tonnes. With increasing domestic crush, soybean imports for market year 2015-16 and market year 2016-17 are expected to remain strong at 3.15 million tonnes as crushers take advantage of low international soybean prices and profit from soybean meal production.