When soybeans are harvested in the U.S., they’re measured in bushels. A single bushel of soybeans weighs about 60 pounds. In 2018, Illinois producers harvested an estimated 688 million soybean bushels.
So, what does one of those 688 million bushels get you? Here’s the breakdown:
And where do those bushels go? Roughly 60% are exported:
- Whole beans: In the past 10 years, Illinois has grown from exporting about 80 million bushels of whole beans to about 200 million bushels of whole beans, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Some of these beans go to Taiwan, Indonesia and other destinations in Southeast Asia to become tofu and tempeh.
- Meal: Soybean meal from about 9.6 million bushels of soybeans is exported from Illinois around the world to feed poultry, pigs, fish and other animals, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Illinois soybean meal goes to countries in Southeast Asia, like Vietnam and the Philippines, and Central American countries like Mexico, Costa Rica and others.
- Oil: In 2017, Illinois exported oil from about 655,000 bushels of soybeans. U.S. oil makes its way to countries like the Republic of Korea, Dominican Republic, Colombia and Mexico.