Emerging Markets / June 6, 2017

Global Trade of Coconuts and Soybeans

Agribusiness has two main types of agricultural products for retail sale: niche and commodities. Commodity products are grown and traded in large amounts worldwide. Meanwhile, niche products, such as coconuts, are grown in specific geographic areas and geared towards particular markets. This article explores a specific case for each of these agricultural goods.

Global Trade of Coconuts and Soybeans

Coconuts, both fresh and dried, represented an international trade market of US$1.15 billion in 2015. This represents a remarkable increase from over a decade ago, when the international coconut trade market accounted for a total of US$386 million (in 2005). During this time period, the world’s major coconut producers have not changed much, but its main consumers have. Currently, the majority of coconuts are grown in Asia, where they are originally from. Furthermore, in 2015, Asian nations accounted for 87% of all coconuts exports worldwide. In particular, the Philippines was the world’s largest exporter of coconuts that year, dominating 27% of the market, which equated to some US$312 million. That same year, the world’s second coconut exporter was Indonesia controlling 24% of the global market supply and totaling US$273 million in revenue for the archipelago nation. Other major coconut exporters during 2015 were Sri Lanka (9.1%), Thailand (8.3%), Vietnam (7.6%), and India (5.9%). Meanwhile, the world’s leading importer of fresh and dried coconuts was the United States, accounting for 15% or US$170 million. Simultaneously, the second largest importer of this good in 2015 was China, which represented 12% of the global import market by purchasing US$135 million. On a continental scale, Europe as a whole imported 31% or US$353 million worth of all coconuts sold internationally during 2015.

On the other hand, soybeans are one of the world’s most traded and valued agricultural commodities. Mainly grown in the Americas, the global trade of soybeans during 2015 accounted for a market of more than US$51 billion. Once again, this amount demonstrates significant market growth compared to 2005, when the international soybeans trade totaled US$16.8 billion. Today, Asia is the world’s leading importer and consumer of soybeans. These oilseeds are valued for their high protein and oil contents as well as their variety of uses from vegetable oil production to staple foodstuff and animal feed. In 2015, the largest exporters of soybeans in the world were Brazil with 41% of the market, followed by the United States with 38%, and Argentina with 8.4%. In dollar value, the export of soybeans during 2015 represented US$21.1 billion for Brazil, US$19.6 billion for the United States, and US$4.3 billion for Argentina. Normally, soybeans are sold per bushel and the average price per bushel throughout 2015 was between US$9 and US$10. On the other side of the market, the world’s largest importer of soybeans during 2015 was, by far, China. That year China purchased 61% of all soybeans sold internationally for a total value of US$31 billion. After China, other major soybean importers were Japan and Mexico, each accounting for merely 3% of the market (respectively).

(Read more about Brazilian Coffee Production and Markets)

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