Cargill to build soybean processing facility to meet rising oilseed demand

Dive Brief:

  • Cargill plans to build a new soybean processing facility in Pemiscot County, Missouri, to support the growing demand for oilseeds used in food, animal feed and fuel markets.
  • The company expects the plant, with an annual production capacity of 62 million bushels of soybeans, to break ground early next year with plans to be operational in 2026. The new facility will have approximately 45 full-time positions.
  • The prospects of a new plant four years from now comes amid increased demand for many agricultural commodities used in food, global unrest, a surge in inflation and supply chain disruptions.

Dive Insight:

While soybeans have a broad array of uses, the popular oilseed is perhaps best known as a food staple. It’s found in everything from soymilk and edamame to fermented offerings like soy sauce and miso. Plant-based meat company Impossible Foods uses heme, the ingredient that makes its burgers cook and taste like meat, that is found in the root nodules of soybeans.

Soybean oil is the most commonly used edible oil in the U.S. by a wide margin. 

According to Statista, 11.3 million metric tons of soybean oil were consumed in 2021, well ahead of rapeseed oil at 2.4 million metric tons and palm oil at 1.6 million. There are a wide variety of products that contain soybean oil, including margarine and shortenings, mayonnaise, salad dressing, frozen foods, imitation dairy and meat products.

In building the new Missouri soybean processing plant, Cargill is betting the demand for soybeans and soybean oil will continue. A report released this week by estimated the soybean oil market to rise by a 4.5% compound annual growth rate during the next seven years. The centralized location of the facility in the middle of the country will not only provide a convenient location for farmers in nearby soybean-growing states, but may also potentially help keep more of the crop in the U.S.

“Cargill’s new facility, with its location on the Mississippi river, will operate year-round and provide farmers opportunity to take advantage of increased domestic demand versus relying solely on seasonal exports,” said Tim Coppage, regional commercial lead with Cargill Agricultural Supply Chain North America. 

Cargill has been moving aggressively to expand its soybean processing capacity. In March 2021, the Minnesota-based company announced it would spend close to half a billion dollars to expand soybean processing capacity at two locations in the Midwest and increase efficiency at five others across the country to meet the growing demand. Cargill also has increased its reach in other parts of the globe through deals like its 2020 purchase of a Chinese soybean processor.

The decision by Cargill to expand its soybean processing capacity is reflective of similar expansion plans taking place among other ingredient manufacturers. 

Puris recently refurbished an old dairy plant in Minnesota that doubled its pea protein production capacity, while Ingredion last summer debuted an expansion and upgrades to a Saskatchewan pulse-based protein facility to support demand for sustainable plant-based offerings. And last month, ADM announced it would invest about $300 million to increase soy protein concentrate production in an Illinois plant to meet strong demand growth for the ingredient.