Industrial Uses of Soy

Updated: October 14, 2016

Current Situation

Soy ingredients are helping manufacturers reduce their dependency on petrochemicals and insulate themselves from price fluctuations for raw materials. The versatile composition of soybeans also enables manufacturers to replace possible carcinogens and satisfy consumer demand for “greener,” more environmentally friendly products.1

Soybean oil has been proven to be an effective and economical ingredient in products ranging from polyurethane foam to plastics, paints, coatings and solvents. Soybean meal is also used as filler in plastics, rubber, paper coatings, resins and formaldehyde-free adhesives. You’ll also find soy feedstock in detergents, candles and cosmetics.1

Why the Checkoff Cares

The soy checkoff continues to support innovative research that leads to the development and commercialization of sustainable products that contain soy, which increases and diversifies demand for U.S. soybean farmers.

Key Points

  • The soy checkoff has helped bring hundreds of soy-based products to the market, ranging from cleaning supplies to carpet backing. Other examples of the checkoff’s commitment to soy technology include the discovery of soy polyols used to make foam for automobiles and furniture, formaldehyde-free adhesives used in wood paneling, coatings with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and biodiesel.
  • Checkoff-supported research has helped demonstrate that soy works as a cost-competitive replacement for petrochemicals in manufacturing. This expedites commercialization of soy-based products.2
  • A checkoff-supported Life Cycle Assessment and the Soy Sustainability Protocol are helping manufacturers formulate more sustainable products to address environmental concerns.
  • Soy replaces formaldehyde in many adhesive products. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, according to the International Agency for Cancer Research.
  • Soy lowers the amount of VOCs in products to make them safer to use.3

Facts & Figures

  • 7 percent – Industrial uses (excluding biodiesel) made up more than 7 percent of the domestic demand for U.S. soybean oil in the 2014/15 marketing year. (USB Market View Database)
  • 88.5 percent – U.S. soybean oil demand for non-biodiesel industrial uses is estimated to have grown nearly 88.5 percent from 2004/05 to 2014/15, thanks in part to the soy checkoff. (USB Market View Database)
  • 561 million – Industrial users of soybean oil in the U.S. (including biodiesel) are estimated to have utilized the oil from over 561 million bushels of soybeans in the 2014/15 marketing year. (USB Market View Database)

Other Resources


1 Thinking Sustainability? Think Soy. brochure published 10.1.16
3 NEW LIFE CYCLE PROFILE FOR SOY PRODUCTS RELEASED FEBRUARY 2010; peer-reviewed white paper, posted on and