Soybeans and Your Holiday Dinner Table

By Doug Schroeder, Chairman, Illinois Soybean Association Board of Directors

Doug SchroederWhether ham, turkey, chicken, beef or fish take center stage at your holiday dinner table, you can thank soybeans. Why? Because livestock, poultry and fish rely on protein from soybean meal to grow into that tasty bounty.

Livestock and poultry producers are the largest customers for Illinois soybeans and feed for animal agriculture represents the top market for soybeans today. In total, over 70 percent of the soybeans grown in the U.S. end up in livestock feed so you and I can enjoy high quality protein not only around the holidays, but all year long.

High-quality protein meal and hulls comprise nearly 80 percent of crushed soybeans, which feed pigs, poultry, fish, beef and dairy cattle. Pigs eat nearly 79 percent of the soybean meal fed in Illinois, while poultry consumes about 64 percent of the soybean meal fed in the U.S.

Meat exports represent the fastest growing category of soybean meal use, with U.S. pork exports generating a market value of $120.4 million to Illinois soybeans in 2018. Beef and pork exports alone add 85 cents per bushel to the price of soybeans.

Not only does feeding Illinois soybean meal add value to the crop, but exporting meat, poultry and dairy also increases demand and market value for soybeans. As the worldwide demand for meat and poultry continues to expand, especially in developing countries, buyers continue to demand quality, safe meat and look to the U.S. as a consistent supplier. This in turn benefits soybean growers in Illinois as livestock and poultry production and exports ensure markets for our soybeans.

To continually tap into new markets and strengthen those already existing, the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff program supports meat export growth through the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) and the U.S.A. Poultry and Egg Export Council (USAPEEC). The partnerships we have with USMEF and USAPEEC benefit soybean growers like you and me by breaking down barriers between U.S. products and international customers.

One of the ways ISA supports USMEF is through pork promotion in Mexico. This investment has positive impacts on Mexican consumers as their pork consumption continues to increase at an annual rate of 3.3 percent. Beyond that, U.S. pork exports to Mexico have set volume and value records and ISA is proud to back USMEF’s efforts.

ISA also backs USAPEEC because soybeans are a vital part of poultry diets. In fact, one out of every six bushels of soybeans produced in the U.S., making it vital that we continue to support the poultry industry. A primary USAPEEC project we support is Gulfood, a trade show in Dubai, where ISA helps sponsor a pavilion and booth for poultry and egg cooking demonstrations.

In addition to our support of USMEF and USAPEEC, ISA also supports the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), which creates demand for soy in public and private sectors globally. WISHH trains people in developing countries on using soy for economic and nutritional advantages to improve diets and health. These initiatives also encourage the growth of food and animal production industries.

By creating demand for meat and poultry, USMEF, USAPEEC and WISHH initiatives not only help Illinois soybean farmers, they also help our neighbors who are livestock producers. We appreciate these opportunities for ISA to support farmers all across our state. This holiday season, I’ll enjoy dinners with my family and be thankful for the noble soybean, along with the farmers and livestock producers who helped put the meals on our table.

To learn more about ISA’s support of USMEF, USAPEEC and WISHH, visit