China is ready to further roll out a program to further reduce the usage of soybean meal in feed formula across its domestic poultry and aquaculture sectors, the country’s feed association said this week.
The program aims to promote a “standardization of lower protein and soybean meal” formula which will be adopted by more poultry producers and could even be extended to hog and livestock breeding sectors.
The announcement is made against a backdrop of increasing focus on food security and self-sufficiency from the Chinese government since 2021 as China is currently the world’s largest animal feed-producing and consuming country and soybean meal accounts for a predominant share in feed formula.
In the first three quarters of 2022, China produced 216 million tons of animal feed.
More than 85% of China’s soybean meal production relies on imports because China buys 90-100 million tons of soybeans from overseas annually to supply its massive oilseed crushing industry.
Currently, corn is the main source of energy in China’s animal feed formula, accounting for more than 70%. Soybean meal is the main ingredient of the protein supply, which represents roughly 20%.
To supplement lower soybean meal content, producers would typically substitute it with more cost-competitive mixed meals consisting of rapeseed meal, and cotton meal, etc.
The association has been conducting trials of using less soybean meal in animal feed formula in the past five years. The process was accelerated by the US-China trade war in 2018 when China banned imports of US soybeans causing a supply shortage of the key feed ingredient.