Soybean Oil_Photo courtesy of United Soybean Board
Increased soybean crush in Tunisia will lead to lower import demand for soybean oil, estimated at 130,000 tonnes in 2017-18.
Photo courtesy of United Soybean Board.
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. – Expansion of Tunisia’s soybean crushing facility and entrance of a new soybean extruder into the market is expected to grow the nation’s soybean imports in 2017-18.

Imports are forecast at 640,000 tonnes, up 40,000 tonnes from 2016-17 and nearly 100,000 tonnes from 2015-16, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service.

Tunisia’s only soybean crushing facility, Carthage Grain, is adding 200 tonnes of capacity to its existing 2,000 tonnes per day. Total soybean crush at Carthage Grain is estimated at 590,000 tonnes, up from an estimated 550,000 tonnes in 2016-17.

The nation’s largest feed producer, Poulina Group, is entering the soybean extrusion market in order to supply a co-located feed mill. The facility will have a total capacity of 24 tph, which will be used to produce solely full fat soybean during the first years of operation. It may be later switched to also produce extruded pressed soybean meal and soybean oil. It is estimated to process 35,000 tonnes of soybeans in 2016-17 and 45,000 tonnes in 2017-18.

Both of these events will strongly impact demand for imported soybean meal, estimated at 155,000 tonnes, as feed demand continues its slow growth due to strong controls limiting poultry production growth, the USDA said.

Increased crush also will lead to lower import demand for soybean oil, estimated at 130,000 tonnes in 2017-18. For 2016-17, crush is estimated at 550,000 tonnes.

Multi-year adjustments were also made in the soybean balance sheet to reflect ending stocks as well as soybean meal extraction rates, which were lowered for all years to accommodate production levels of soybean hulls.

Tunisian consumption of soybean meal for 2016-17 is estimated at 540,000 tonnes and forecast at 570,000 tonnes in 2017-18. Soybean meal consumption is mainly driven by the poultry sector, where market sources indicate 70% of soybean meal is used for broiler, turkey, and egg production, the USDA said.

Total animal feed production in 2016-17 is estimated at 2.3 million tonnes, up slightly from 2.2 million tonnes in 2015-16. Feed production is also projected to grow slightly in 2017-18 to 2.4 million tonnes. This slight increase marks slowing growth opportunities in the poultry industry as the government has put controls back in place to limit production following liberalization of the quota breeding system in 2012. Reportedly, the return of government intervention into the poultry industry is aimed at increasing profitability within the sector.