WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Vietnam’s oilseed production continues to fall well below demand from the food industry and the livestock and aquaculture feed sectors due to low yield and strong competition from other field crops, such as corn, the U.S Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) said in a May 20 report. Soybean production is estimated that it will not significantly increase in the coming years due to generally low yields and lack of meaningful expansion of growing areas. Competitiveness is a major disincentive to the expansion of the soybean sector overall.

Total imports of soybeans in 2014-15 were 1.7 million tonnes, an increase of 9% over the previous year due to rising demand from the food and feed industries. In market year 2014-15, U.S. was the second largest exporter of soybeans to Vietnam, following Brazil, capturing a 39% market share. U.S. soybean exports to Vietnam were 660,000 tonnes, a drop of 5.4% in volume and a significant drop of 33% in value from the previous market year.

In market year 2014-15, Vietnam imported about 4.5 million tonnes of soybean meal and soy flour, an increase of about 23% over the previous year (3.65 million tonnes) due to increasing demand for protein feed, and food industry. In 2015, U.S. soybean meal exports to Vietnam were 320,000 tonnes, accounting for 7% market share. This is a drop from 10% in the previous year (368,000 tonnes). In market year 2014-15, approximately 96% of U.S. soybean meal exports to Vietnam were soybean flour. The report projects soy flour imports will continue to increase in 2016 and in coming years as demand continues to grow due to population growth and rising incomes. It also forecasts 2016 and 2017 total soybean meal imports to increase slightly to 4.6 million tonnes and 4.7 million tonnes, respectively, given rising demand from the food and feed industries.

Vietnam continues to rely heavily on imported crude and refined vegetable oils to meet consumer demand, although domestically produced crude soybean oil has been available in the country since 2011. In 2015, Vietnam produced about 214,000 tonnes of crude soy oil from commercial crushing facilities, but continued to import an estimated 761,000 tonnes of crude and refined vegetable oils to meet local consumption and regional export demand. In 2015, refined vegetable oil imports were 662,000 tonnes, a drop of about 10% from the previous year, and crude vegetable oil imports were almost at the same level of the year ago, which was 17% increase over 2014. The report forecasts that total vegetable oil imports in 2016, particularly crude imports, will rebound in the 800,000-820,000 tonnes range due to new operation of a large vegetable oil refiner in Vietnam. Vietnam’s exports of all types of vegetable oil and animal fat in 2015 were an estimated 182,000 tonnes, almost the same level of the previous year (183,000 tonnes), of which crude and refined soy oil accounted for 57%, while palm oil, copra oil and other products accounted for 43%. Post estimates soy oil exports at 100,000 tonnes in both market year 2014-15 and market year 2015-16.