The April National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) crush report showed that 185.8 million bushels of soybeans were crushed in March 2023. This was 2.4 million bushels above expectations and a record large crush rate for the month of March and the second largest monthly crush rate ever reported by NOPA. (The largest ever monthly crush rate reported by NOPA was 186.4 million in December 2020.) In addition to the NOPA-member crush, there is 8-13 million bushels per month of soybean crush by non-NOPA members. The highest reported monthly crushing reported by USDA is 198 million bushels in December 2020. (Figure 1)
Figure 1. Monthly Soybean Crush
Cumulative soybean crush for 2022/23 is now 1,306 million bushels which is just 5 million bushels behind last year's pace which resulted in 2.204 million bushels of soybean crush. USDA currently projects annual soybean crush of 2,220 million bushels which means that monthly soybean crush for April through August will need to run about 4.4 million bushels per month higher than last year to achieve that projection. If that transpires, then every month, March through August of 2023 will see a record monthly crush level (Figure 2).
Soybean crush margins are not as large as they were earlier this year but are still estimated to be near $1.50 per bushel. Soybean crush margins are typically slightly weaker in the last 6 months of a crush year than they are in the first 6 months of the crush year. Since early December soybean meal has seen more price strength than soybean oil. (Figure 3) Both soybean oil and soybean meal prices weakened during late February though mid-March but have shown some upticks in prices as the harvest results from Argentina confirm just how bad the drought in Argentina was. This is providing support to U.S. soybean prices and soybean product prices now and with oil prices moving higher on cutbacks by OPEC, soybean prices should be supported through late spring and into early summer.
Figure 2. Annual Soybean Crush
Figure 3. Soybean Oil and Soybean Meal Prices