Soybean meal remains the most essential and favoured protein source in the production of animal feed. When analysing the South African soybean industry there seems to be a general perception that South African produced soybean meal is inferior, with reference to protein quality, to that of imported South American soybean meal. The perception dictates that animals which are fed on feed containing local soybean meal show suboptimal growth in relation to animals fed on feed containing imported soybean meal. This perception is reflected by an observed discounted price received by the local product.
When considering the daily Argentine (imported) as well as South African (locally produced) price of soybean meal for the period January 2010 to June 2017, it is evident that price discounts received by the local product sometimes reach as much as R950 per ton, approximately 13% of the local price. Considering the average price discount per ton received by locally produced soybean meal during the 2014/2015, 2015/2016, 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 production seasons the local industry forfeited R229.9 million, R209.4 million, R430.6 million and R459.3 million respectively. This is a total of more than R1.3 billion over four production seasons. Thus, in order to promote the use of local soybean meal as a source of protein in animal feed, this study challenged the negative market perception towards local soybean meal.
The protein quality of soybean meal is dependent on the digestibility of the protein content and the reduction of anti-nutritional factors present in raw soybeans. Protein quality in soybean meal is determined when the crushed flakes are exposed to heat treatment. Insufficient or over-heating of the crushed flakes will result in poor quality soybean meal as insufficient heating will fail to destroy anti-nutritional factors and over-heating will reduce protein digestibility and the availability of amino acids. Feed formulators need reliable methods to differentiate between good quality soybean meal and under- or over-processed soybean meal.
In South Africa, feed manufacturers rely only on indirect analysis, i.e. in vitro analysis, to determine protein quality of soybean meal as direct analysis of soybean protein quality, i.e. in vivo analysis, is challenging in routine operations. Various studies have drawn the validity of these in vitro methods of quality analysis into question as test results between laboratories differ significantly. At the end of the day in vivo monogastric animal growth performance testing is the most relevant test for soybean meal quality. Since no published in vivo studies, performed in South Africa, substantiating inferior protein quality claims could be found, the discounted price received by locally produced soybean meal, based on inferior quality claims, is questionable. Therefore, a complete and independently verified market discount or premium, on the back of an in vivo growth performance study, is necessary to promote the South African soybean meal industry.
This findings of this study has shown that the perception that South African produced soybean meal should trade at a discount relative to imported Argentine soybean meal is unsubstantiated. Results from the in vivo broiler growth performance study has shown a South African (RSA) night-shift soybean meal diet to be the most favourable soybean meal for broiler production during the in vivo broiler growth performance trial, based on: mortality rates; feed conversion; production efficiency as well as economic feasibility, when compared to an Argentine, RSA day-shift and RSA under-processed soybean meal diet.
Therefore, based on the findings of this study industry participants may be inclined to replace imported protein sources by that of local protein sources. An increase in the demand for local soybean meal products will shift the demand curve outward, ultimately increasing local soybean meal market prices. Higher market prices and thus greater profitability could in the end lead to an expansion in soybean meal production. This in turn could ultimately improve South Africa’s self-sufficiency in protein for animal production for human consumption and as a result improve the country’s trade balance in the future.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2019.