Industrial Uses of Soy

Updated: July 9, 2018

Current Situation

Manufacturers of both industrial and consumer products use soybean oil and meal to replace petroleum and other volatile or hazardous ingredients, as well as increase product performance. The versatility of U.S. soybean components makes product applications remarkably wide-ranging, including rubber, fiber, coatings, solvents, plastics, lubricants and adhesives.

Adding yet another reason for product manufacturers to look at using soybeans, high oleic soybeans provide industrial users with an oil that remains stable in high-heat conditions. With the potential to add demand for soybeans in markets that require performance under high-heat conditions — such as synthetic motor oils and automotive lubricants — high oleic soybeans are currently grown in 12 states.1

In addition to helping manufacturers reduce their dependency on petrochemicals and insulate themselves from price fluctuations for raw materials, soybeans enable manufacturers to replace possible carcinogens and satisfy consumer demand for sustainable, environmentally-friendly products.2

The future for soy-based products looks bright, with USB’s Soy Products Guide containing 1,000+ soy-based products currently on the market — from flooring and roofing products to candles and personal care items.

1 Brentin, Robert, 2014. Soy-Based Chemicals and Materials: Growing the Value Chain. ACS Symposium Series, Vol. 1178, pp. 10-12.

Why the Checkoff Cares

To increase and diversify demand for U.S. soybeans, the soybean checkoff supports innovative research that leads to the development and commercialization of sustainable, high-performing products that use soy. This checkoff support comes in the form of funding as well as technical support from expert consultants.

Key Points

  • Thanks in part to checkoff-funded research, Goodyear discovered using soybean oil in tires resulted in better traction in wet and winter conditions and launched a line of soy-based tires offered in a wide range of sizes, covering 77 percent of cars, minivans and SUVs on the road today.
  • Every year, new soy products come to market thanks in part to checkoff support. In USB’s 2017 fiscal year, 17 new checkoff-supported, soy-based products were commercialized.
  • Checkoff-supported research has demonstrated that soy works as a cost-competitive replacement for petrochemicals in manufacturing. This expedites commercialization of soy-based products.3
    USB released a peer-reviewed life cycle profile documenting multiple energy and environmental benefits of U.S. soybean farming and processing, including reductions in energy use, greenhouse gas and nitrous oxide emissions.
  • Soy replaces formaldehyde in many adhesive products. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, according to the International Agency for Cancer Research.
  • U.S. soy provides a consistent supply of ingredients for product manufacturers. U.S. soybean production reached a record 4.39 billion bushels last year, generating abundant supply for soy customers such as industrial product manufacturers.
  • Soy decreases VOCs in products to make them safer to use.3

Facts & Figures

  • 50 percent increase — In the last decade industrial, non-biodiesel use of soybean oil in the U.S. increased by more than 50 percent.4
  • 127 million bushels of oil — Excluding biodiesel, industrial users of soybean oil in the U.S. are estimated to have used more than 127 million bushel equivalents of soybean oil in the 2016/17 marketing year.5
  • 7 percent industrial use share— Industrial, non-biodiesel uses made up more than 7 percent of the domestic demand for U.S. soybean oil in the 2016/17 marketing year.6

Other Resources