First the spelling: is it soy or soya? Whatever you prefer, there is no getting away from the fact that soya, as we will choose to refer to it here, is a feed source rich in highly digestible protein. So much so that according to feedipedia.org, soya represents two thirds of the world’s protein source for animal feed.
Popular history points to a more humble beginning to global transport of soya as nineteenth century North American sailors returning from trading trips to China used beans as inexpensive ballast for their ships. Later, the use of soya for food and agriculture in North America became more critical during the World War II as a home-grown source of food, feed and vegetable oil.
Today, countries such as North America and Brasil have emerged as not only fully self-sufficient in soya, but as global suppliers to a protein-hungry supply chain. For others dependent on imports, worries about supply was a topic long before the current strain on supply chains caused by Covid 19 highlighted the fragility of modern feed supply.
Morten Gylling, senior advisor at the Department of food and resource economics IFRO, CPH comments: “Post World War II Europe has never been self-sufficient in protein for feed, it seems that Europe is better in producing starch than protein. Serious resources have been spent by the EU to change this, but with no success.”