Soy has been in the limelight of the food industry for over a few decades. Often praised as a superfood, soybeans and the wide variety of products made from them play an increasingly important role in our everyday lives.
From animal and human consumption to a broad palette of different supplements and cosmetics, the soy industry has managed to break into the energy industry by introducing soy-based biodiesel.
As such, the soy statistics we prepared for you aim to better introduce this remarkable plant, which has been a mainstay in Asian diets for centuries.
Top 10 Soy Statistics and Facts You Should Know
- Soybeans or soya beans have been a staple in Asian diets for thousands of years.
- Currently, Brazil is the largest soy producer globally, with a volume of 124 million metric tons.
- Soy is rich in antioxidants, polyunsaturated fats, and phytonutrients, which are linked to several health benefits.
- Soy benefits for menopause depend on the existing hormone levels in the body.
- Regular soybean consumption may lower the risk of premenopausal breast cancer by a significant 59%.
- Soy protein might not be the most effective muscle-builder.
- Soy wax is an environmentally-friendly alternative to paraffin wax.
- In 2019, Americans consumed around 10,7 million metric tons of soybean oil.
- China’s domestic consumption of soy is at 17,663 metric tons.
- In the 2019/2020 season, the total volume of globally imported soybeans was around 153.31 million metric tons.
Soy Consumption: Stats and Facts
1. Soybeans or soya beans have been a staple in Asian diets for thousands of years.
In Latin, these beans are called Glycine max, and they are a native Eastern-Asian type of legume.
Today, the plant is still mainly produced in Asia. However, North and South America have also become significant producers of the plant throughout the years.
According to the soy use statistics, the more heavily processed soy products are, the more commonly they are found in the Western world. Conversely, in Asia, soybeans are still often eaten whole.
2. Soybeans are used both for food and fuel.
(Healthline, North Carolina Soybean Producers Association)
There are various types of soy products. When it comes to food for human consumption, soy flour, protein, milk, sauce, soybean oil, and tofu are the most prevalent. However, the plant is also used in the supplements and cosmetics industries.
Soy’s also used to produce animal feed and biodiesel, serving as an alternative for traditional fuel sources.
3. Currently, Brazil is the largest soy producer globally, with a volume of 124 million metric tons.
The soy industry statistics from Statista show that the United States was the largest producer in 2019, with around 120.52 million metric tons. However, Brazil took over the crown earlier this May.
4. In the US, soybeans are a major agricultural crop, behind only corn in terms of popularity.
Most commonly, US farmers grow soy in rotation with corn. According to the available soy statistics, around 80 percent of the entire country’s overall production volume is cultivated in the Upper Midwest.
5. Soybeans were one of the first agricultural plants that underwent scientific genetic modification (GM).
The first bioengineered crops were cultivated in 1996 in the US when the plant possessed better herbicide resistance.
Soy Health Risks and Benefits
6. Soy is high in antioxidants, polyunsaturated fats, and phytonutrients linked to several health benefits.
However, there are quite a few concerns that state that soy consumption may also have potentially adverse effects.
7. Harvard experts claim that soy is either neutral or beneficial for the body.
According to their summary, the studies researching the plant’s anti-estrogenic and estrogenic effects seem to present conflicting conclusions, mostly because the studies differ. According to the latest research findings, soy is primarily neutral or beneficial when it comes to various health conditions.
All in all, soy is a great source of protein that can be safely consumed, and it can serve as a healthy alternative to processed and red meat.
8. Soy benefits for menopause may depend on the existing hormone levels in the body.
The estrogenic properties of soy may become more prevalent in postmenopausal women who have less freely circulating estradiol (the strongest of the three estrogens). In these cases, soy may act more like an estrogen. However, for premenopausal women (with higher levels of estradiol), soy may have anti-estrogenic properties.
9. Soy isoflavones have benefits in preventing the recurrence of breast cancer.
(Oregon State University)
The available data from three big prospective cohort studies suggest that those cancer survivors who had a soy isoflavone of at least 10 mg a day or more had a 25% reduced risk of the recurrence of the tumor.
10. Regular soybean consumption may lower the risk of premenopausal breast cancer by a significant 59%.
The Shanghai Women’s Health Study followed 73,223 Chinese women for over seven years to study breast cancer risks in populations with high soy consumption. The most extensive and most detailed study in this area found that the risk was around 43% lower in those who consumed soy during adolescence.
Over the next 13 years, the researchers leading the project kept publishing follow-up evaluations from the same cohort. The soy consumption stats show that soy use can lead to a 28% decreased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. It also leads to a 54% reduced risk of hormone-positive breast tumors in premenopausal women.
11. Soy lecithin benefits may include cholesterol reduction.
Most people turn to soy lecithin because they believe that adding it to your diet may reduce LDL cholesterol levels.
An old study from 1998 found that lecithin reduced LDL cholesterol levels without affecting those of HDL cholesterol.
Another study roughly ten years later had similar findings, with 42% reductions in total cholesterol and a 56% reduction in LDL levels.
12. Soy protein might not be the most effective muscle-builder.
Soy protein is a complete protein with all the essential amino acids that must be obtained from food.
The benefits of soy protein may seem to lack in this respect. When comparing it to casein and whey protein, it seems to be less effective when it comes to muscle protein synthesis than its other counterparts.
According to two older studies from 2009, soy protein was inferior in this area, and whey and casein were generally more helpful in building muscle across the board.
A 2014 study found that mixing these three different protein types may bring the best results as far as muscle protein synthesis goes.
Soy protein offers several benefits to women, like improved cardiovascular status, a better diet, increased protection from certain cancer types, improved postmenopausal health, obesity control, and food variety.
Soy Products: Stats and Facts
13. The benefits of soy milk may include reduced risks of malignancies and osteoporosis and the alleviation of menopausal symptoms.
(EveryDayHealth, Doctor NDTV, Livestrong.com)
A soy-rich diet may help with acne, while another study claims that soy may have anti-aging properties as well.
Moreover, soy milk might help those who want to strengthen their hair. Products high in protein are known to bind to the hair and form a protective layer. That being said, consuming high-protein sources like soy milk may support healthier and stronger hair growth.
14. When it comes to soy protein isolate, its benefits include improving protein ingestion and digestive health overall.
Soy protein isolate is the best-quality soy protein because it has a higher biological value than textured soy protein and protein concentrate (SPC).
The higher the biological value, the more protein will be ingested by the body.
The concentrate is less processed than the isolate, meaning its fiber content is higher, which can help maintain digestive health.
15. Soy wax is an environmentally friendly alternative to paraffin wax.
(The Candle Lab)
Traditional candle wax or paraffin wax is made from non-renewable resources such as oil shale, petroleum, or coal. This is the most common type of candle wax because it’s more accessible and cheaper than soy wax.
When it comes to soy wax, one of its benefits includes the fact it’s made from renewable resources that make it a more environmentally-friendly option overall.
16. Soy sauce may be a better antioxidant source than red wine.
(Times of India)
Soy sauce has around 10 times more phytonutrient antioxidants than red wine, making it an ideal food to protect your body from the damage free radicals create.
The soy sauce nutritional facts reveal it’s an ideal addition to your diet. It’s rich in protein and isoflavones, and it has a small amount of fiber, too.
A single tablespoon has around 18 calories, 1 gram of carbs, 1 gram of protein, and about 1000 mg of sodium.
Soybean Consumption: Statistics and Facts
17. In 2019 only, Americans consumed around 10,7 million metric tons of soybean oil.
When looking at the US soybean consumption figures, it’s also important to note that soy products are generally accessible in the US.
A survey from the United Soybean Board that included 1,000 consumers revealed that around 35% consume soy products at least once or more a week, an 11% increase from the figures in 2010.
18. Soy milk consumption statistics show that soy milk is not very popular in Germany.
When looking at the frequency of soy milk consumption in Germany, in 2019, only 0.69 million people in the country said they consumed soy milk products more than once a week.
19. China’s domestic soy consumption is at an estimated 17,663.
(Index Mundi, Statista)
In terms of soybean consumption by country, China is the global leader. The Asian country also takes the lead in the export of soybeans. It has exported over 92 million metric tons in the 2019/2020 market year alone.
20. In the 2019/2020 season, the total volume of globally imported soybeans was around 153.31 million metric tons.
The world soybean consumption statistics also show that the US soybean production has increased to around 4 billion bushels in recent years. Illinois is the leading state in terms of production, with a record number of 698 million bushels in 2018.
Stats and Facts on Soy Supplements
21. The alleged dangers of soy supplements may be blown out of proportion.
The health effects of soy supplements and their ingredients (mostly phytoestrogens) have always been debated.
According to the gathered evidence published in 2014, the extensive use of soy supplements and products does not have adverse effects. The feminizing effects of these compounds may only be subtle and have statistical relevance only in large populations.
However, more independent research and data are needed to back these findings up.
22. Soy-based protein and supplements are not far behind other weight loss options.
(Food Navigator, OnlineLibrary)
Soy supplements for weight loss might be just as effective as other products when losing and maintaining weight. A 2018 study published in the Obesity Science and Practice scientific journal monitored the health of 72 obese people to prove this.
The participants were randomly assigned to consume up to three servings of non-soy and soy protein meals every day for a year. Both non-soy and soy groups lost a significant amount of weight, with an average fat loss of 3-4% in the first four months.
Soy Industry: Statistics and Trends
23. Argentina was the largest soybean oil exporter in 2018/2019.
When looking at the recent soybean export data, Argentina was the leader in terms of oil export, with an export volume of around 5.3 metric tons in the 2018/2019 season.
24. The production value of soybeans in the US was around $31.2 billion in 2019.
The latest soy consumption stats also reveal that soybean oil consumption in the US was around 10.07 metric tons.
Moreover, soy beverage sales are on the rise. In 2016 alone, these beverages managed to generate a staggering $881 million from sales.
25. In 2018, farmers planted around 89.2 million acres of soybeans in the US.
The American Soybean Association states that in 2019, the yield averaged at around 51.6 bushels per acre. The total soybean production across the country amounted to approximately 4.54 billion bushels.
26. The total value of the US soybean crop in 2018 was $39.13 million.
One of the interesting soy industry facts shows that around 41% of the US production was exported (approximately 1.87 billion bushels).
Also, soybeans represented around 61% of the world’s overall oilseed production that year.
27. The global CAGR of the soy industry was at around 3.5%, and the forthcoming years also suggest further growth.
When it comes to the soy industry and its growth, the global powers are the US, Brazil, Canada, Paraguay, Uruguay. These countries are among the most significant global exporters and producers, accounting for a large chunk of worldwide production.
Which countries consume the most soybeans?
According to Index Mundi’s latest estimates, the country with the most substantial consumption is undoubtedly China, with an estimated annual consumption amount of around 17,663 million tons.
Next in line is the US, while the last position goes to Brazil, with an annual consumption amount of 7,650 million tons.
What is soy mostly for?
In most cases, soybeans are processed because of their oil. The transesterification of the beans can help experts create biodiesel fuel for diesel engines with soybeans.
The transesterification process helps to remove the glycerine from the oil, leaving only biodiesel, which is a more environmentally-friendly alternative to petroleum-based fuel. It’s non-toxic, helps to keep particulate emissions in check, and above all, it’s a renewable energy source.
Soy is also used in the animal feed industry, and a smaller percentage of the beans are processed for the intent of human consumption. These products come in the form of soy flour, soy protein supplements, soy milk, tofu, supplements, and other industrial products that are non-foods.
Lastly, some soybeans are used to ensure next year’s production. Experts from this field focus on creating new soybean varieties that are more resilient to the environment, more tolerable to herbicides, and produce a higher yield than the current varieties.
(North Carolina Soybean Producers Association)
How much soy is used for human consumption?
According to data from Mike Staton, who is a soybean educator at Michigan State University, soybeans typically have two large markets that are based on their two most marketable components—soybean oil and meal.
Soybean meal is generally very high in protein, and around 98% of it is used for poultry, hog, and cattle feed, while only an estimated 1% is used for preparing food for human consumption.
Around 88% of soybean oil is used for producing food for human consumption (in most cases, oil), while 12% of the remaining oil is used as biodiesel.
(Michigan State University)
Who produces the most soybeans in the US?
According to Statista’s latest data from last year, Illinois was the leading soy producing state, with 532,440 thousand bushels produced in the previous year (in 2018, this amount was a staggering 698,750 thousand). The second-largest soy producing state in the United States is Iowa, with 501,600 thousand bushels. The third-largest state in this respect is Minnesota, 297,880 thousand bushels.
It’s also worth mentioning that some states show a decline of over 100 million tons from 2019.
What are the health benefits of soy?
Among the most notable benefits of consuming soy, most experts mention that it’s the only plant containing all nine essential amino acids that promote bone and muscle health. As such, it’s high protein content makes it an ideal vegetarian or vegan alternative for athletes or those who lead an active lifestyle.
Also, only 10–15% percent of its overall fat content is saturated, making it an ideal staple in a heart-healthy diet. Most fats in soy are polyunsaturated (omega-6 and omega-3 fats), and they are essential for a balanced diet.
Soy is cholesterol-free and high in fiber, potassium, and iron. Some of the other soy benefits include its ability to lower blood pressure and improve bone strength and density.
Lastly, there’s also evidence suggesting that regular soy consumption may lower the likelihood of developing breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.
These facts and figures talk not just about an exciting market and a growing industry, but also about a possible superfood that is shrouded with controversy.
The estrogenic effects of soy make it a subject for heated-debates in scientific circles even after many studies and research have shown its potential benefits in fighting cancer and other illnesses.
The plant’s consumption is also widespread, with millions of tons being used for human and animal consumption each year. Moreover, the soy statistics show that the demand is on the rise.
Soy is also a valuable renewable resource that might help change the odds in today’s highly energy-dependent world to create a more environmentally-friendly consumer landscape.
- Doctor NDTV
- Food Navigator
- Harvard T.C. Chan
- Index Mundi
- Michigan State University
- North Carolina Soybean Producers Association
- Oregon State University
- The Candle Lab
- Times of India