Fundamentally Speaking

U.S. Soybean Sales and Shipments at Record Pace

Joel Karlin
By  Joel Karlin , DTN Contributing Analyst
Chart by Joel Karlin, DTN Contributing Analyst

U.S. soybean sales continue to run at a record pace along with shipments. The latest weekly export sales report indicated that 1.282 billion bushels has been shipped as of mid-December. This is the highest ever for this time of year exceeding the prior peak of 1.088 billion bushels recorded in the 2016/17 season.

This year's figure is 58.3% of the USDA's December WASDE projection of 2.200 billion bushels. Also, this is the highest figure ever exceeding the prior high of 56.0% seen back in the 2012/13 marketing year. The current 58.3% pace exceeds the five-year average of 44.0%, the ten-year average of 46.1% and the 20-year average of 43.1%.

The graphic shows U.S. soybean export shipments as of mid-December as a percent of the December WASDE export projection. The final export details show on the left axis vs. the change in exports from the December WASDE to the final figure in million bushels on the right axis.

Does an above average shipment pace as of mid-December suggest a hike in the USDA export projection and implies a higher final figure? This may not necessarily be so looking at year's past that had a strong shipment pace from September 1 to mid-December and just the extraordinary tightness in the 2020/21 U.S. soybean balance sheet that would almost preclude additional overseas sales.

Over the past 20 years here have been four times where in mid-December soybean shipments were over half the December USDA WASDE export projection. In 2003/04 shipments were 52.7% of the Dec WASDE but final exports were only 3 mln higher while in the 2012/13 season which as noted was the prior high of 56.0% saw final exports rise by just 28 million bushels. In 2014/15 shipments as of mid-December were 53.9% yet final exports were 83 million below the December 2014 WASDE estimate while in 2016/17 shipments as of mid-December were 50.0% yet final exports were 124 million below the December 2016 WASDE estimate. The 2020 soybean shipments continue to run above the pace needed to attain the USDA target although pace has been slowing over the past month.


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