U.S. Soybean Measurements

Welcome to the U.S. Soybean Measurements pages. A primary objective for these pages is to illustrate soybean composition issues and associated opportunities. The information presented is based on USB’s further analysis of soybean samples collected from farmer fields by USDA-NASS as part of their Objective Yield (OY) Survey. We have used this information to provide compositional details on the U.S. soybean crop in the eleven represented states and attempted in various ways to illustrate aspects of the “Composition-Opportunity.” The primary initial goal is to stimulate further thought and dialogue within the soybean value-chain regarding the “Composition-Opportunity.” The ultimate goal is beneficial changes in the compositional characteristics of the U.S. soybean crop and the effective capture of this value through a market system which includes composition in the valuing of soybeans.

The inherent value of a crop

The inherent value of any agricultural crop is associated with the extent to which humans can extract benefit from it. Typically, this benefit is associated with a crop’s compositional characteristics. The greater the benefit realized from those characteristics, the greater its applied value. While other factors also shape the economic value that the market assigns, a product’s tangible characteristics serve as the basis for its use.

The translation of inherent value into economic value

Translating a crops inherent value into an economic value is the role of the marketplace. Soybeans are currently marketed through a commodity-based system. The commodity market for soybeans affixes value on the basis of unit volume/mass. Critical to the function of a commodity marketplace is the assumption of product uniformity. A commodity marketplace either ignores non-uniformity or attempts to adapt to it by establishing certain measurable thresholds and imposing penalties when they are not met. Product that exceeds minimum thresholds is typically valued as being no different than that which meets the minimum thresholds. As such, any additional inherent value above the minimum threshold is neither recognized nor valued by the marketplace. Unless captured later by an astute value chain participant, this additional value is “lost.” This represents a lost efficiency in terms of resource utilization and a missed economic opportunity that might have otherwise been shared within the value chain.

If the majority of product moving through a commodity market structure just meets established thresholds, the commodity approach represents the most efficient marketing structure. However, if a significant amount of product exceeds minimum thresholds, enabling its capture may represent an opportunity if the added cost associated with its capture is significantly less than the applied value it represents.

USB’s Soy Measurements goals and the presentation of information

An initial goal is to develop information that allows value-chain participants to better understand the extent of compositional variation within the U.S. soybean crop. From this information, a better understanding of the economic implications associated with compositional variation can be developed. The economic implications will then serve as a starting point for the determination of the potential business opportunity.  From this point, entrepreneurial value-chain participants can determine for themselves whether a true opportunity exists and if so, how best to pursue it.

Our goal is to allow for an informed dialogue regarding opportunities associated with soybean composition differences. Toward this objective, USB provides the information contained in the U.S. Soy Measurements section of this site. This information includes:

  1. Estimates of soybean crop composition for defined, multi-county geographic units.
  2. Results from models that utilize whole soybean composition to estimate soybean oil and meal yields and soybean meal composition.
  3. “Snapshot” estimates of soybean product value based on the soybean compositional values presented and defined market price scenarios.

For the reader’s further consideration, some results have been further utilized to explore issues relevant to the applied-value of soybeans and meal. Perspective on the practical implications of what was observed is also offered as deemed appropriate. Our intent is for this additional information and perspective to not only stimulate further thought but to also invite dialogue leading to beneficial change.

Data is first sorted by crop year and then specific data sets for each crop year incorporated into “pages.” It is recommended that users sequentially move through the pages for a given crop year. In so doing, users are provided with information regarding subsequent information and its use. In addition, users will note that the level of detail increases moving forward.

Since composition-based opportunities are related to the extent that compositional characteristics vary within the U.S. soybean crop, measures of this variation are presented for each reported geographic unit of observation. These measures include ranges (i.e. high value – low value) and standard deviations. In addition to the information summarized within the various “pages”, links to downloadable Excel tables offering further detail are provided within respective pages.

Moving forward

A considerable amount of additional work is required to justify a change in market behavior on the scale that will be required to move from the market’s present commodity focus to one based on composition. An important goal of the U.S. Soy Measurements effort is to attract the expertise and participation of others in this effort. Therefore, we invite your comments.

As more information becomes available, it will be added to this site. As feedback is received, USB will use it to improve the information contained herein. Comments can be submitted to info@unitedsoybean.org.

 All information provided on the U.S. Soy Measurements (USSM) Web pages is provided “As Is” and is intended for illustrative purposes only. No warranty, expressed or implied, by USDA-NASS, USB, Integrative Nutrition, Inc. or any other entity is provided regarding any information provided on USSM pages. All information is provided on the condition that users must make their own determinations regarding any use of this information and must assume all risk associated with any and all use.