Steady but unsensational growth is earmarked for soy products in the US with market analysts predicting a 5.4 per cent rise year on year to $8.6 billion (€7.3bn) in 2007.
While food will dominate the market catching 90 per cent of the demand, the Freedonia Group predicts that industrial applications, which have lagged in past decades, are poised for a surge in growth.
According to the study, Soy Products & Markets, proven health benefits and a spate of new product introductions are expected to spur strong gains in soy-based beverages and nutraceuticals.
Soybean oil is predicted to continue to be the largest category, although increasing competition from other edible oils will have an impact on demand. Advances will be also restrained by the maturity of the food market and a loss in the popularity of fried foods, writes the Freedonia Group.
'But gains will be stimulated by new and expanding applications in the industrial segment, where soy oil is valued for its environmental acceptability, biodegradability, low toxicity and plentiful supply,' claims the report.
Efforts to reduce imports of petroleum and increase utilisation of renewable resources and environmentally friendly chemicals will spark double-digit annual growth for soy products, predicts the Freedonia Group. Demand in plastics - the largest industrial market for soy products - will be driven by the growing use of soy-based polyols and the continued popularity of soybean oil-based plasticisers, add the analysts.
Soy-derived chemicals are expected to record the fastest growth, with yearly advances of 14.9 per cent boosting demand above the $1 billion mark by 2007. According to the report, gains will be led by methyl soyate, as environmental and petroleum-dependence concerns propel growth of 35 per cent annually (from a small base) in biodiesel fuel applications.
Isoflavones will also experience robust growth, with increases of nearly 23 per cent yearly up until 2007, stimulated by increasing use in nutraceuticals to alleviate menopausal symptoms, maintain bone density and aid in other health applications.
Demand for soy products in food markets will be restrained by meagre gains in the well-established soybean fats and oils market. When this segment is excluded, growth of 6.3 per cent is expected, stimulated by consumer preferences for natural ingredients, interest in high protein diets and weight management concerns, write the market analysts.
More specifically, according to the report the demand for soy milk is expected to reach $890m in 2007, up from $710m in 2002 and $510m in 1997. Soybean oil, that saw a dip in demand from $3535m in 1997 to $3525m in 2002, is predicted to rise timidly reaching $4050m in 2007. As previously stated, the biggest growth rates are foreseen for chemicals, rising from $505m in 2002 to $1010m in 2007.