Soybean meal is available worldwide. In 2014, soybean meal production reached 190 million tons and accounted for 62.5% of oil meals . Main producers were China (54 MT), the USA (37 MT), Argentina (29 MT), Brazil (27 MT), and theEU-28 (10 MT). Main exporters were Argentina and Brazil .
The EU-28 was the most important importer of soybean meal (22 MT) followed by South-East Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines . In the EU-28, soybean meal represented 61% of the proteins used to feed livestock, 16% of compound feeds, and an amount of 24 MT .
There are 3 ways to extract soybean for oil and soybean meal. The most commonly used worldwide is solvent extraction. In the USA, virtually all soybeans (99%) are solvent extracted. This method effectively extracts the oil from the beans and only 1,5% residual oil can be found in the soybean meal. The second method consists in mechanical extraction of the soybean flakes with a screw press to extract oil, without using any solvent. This method produces less oil and a high fat soybean meal. The third method combines extruding and expelling of soybean flakes, and neither uses solvent for oil extraction .
A highly palatable feedstuff, soybean meal is characterised by a high protein content (from 43 to 53%) and a low crude fibre content (less than 3% for the dehulled soybean meals). It has a very good amino acid balance and contains high amounts of lysine, tryptophane, threonine and isoleucine, which are often lacking in cereal grains. However, the concentration of cystine and methionine are suboptimal for monogastric animals, and methionine supplementation is necessary . Amino acid digestibility is also very high (more than 90% for lysine in pigs and poultry) .