Soybeans Commodity Fact Sheet

WBSCM Material Description and Number


General Information

The United States provides yellow soybeans for food aid. Yellow soybeans have a yellow or green seed coat and are grown throughout the Midwest with an emphasis in Illinois and Iowa. They may be planted in spring or early summer, depending on type and location, and harvested typically in the fall. For more information on soybean production, storage, usage and benefits, see the U.S. Soybean Export Council ( Soybeans are available in bagged or bulk forms. Bagged soybeans are packaged in 50-kilogram polypropylene woven bags whose fabric contains an inhibitor to resist ultraviolet absorption and an anti-skid coating. The transportation of soybeans may cause the seed to split or break, and the storability of soybeans is dependent on the degree of damage to the seed as well as the moisture content of the harvested seed. It may be necessary to separate broken and whole seeds prior to storage to increase shelf life and decrease risk of mold and insect attack. Moisture and temperature are important factors for proper storage. Therefore, soybeans should be stored in dry, cool conditions. See the U.S. Soybean Export Council Buyer’s Guide for further details ( For full product specifications refer to the USDA Commodity Requirements Document for bagged grains.

Programming Guidance

Soybeans may be used in emergency and development settings as illustrated by the 2011 Food Aid Quality Review (FAQR) report decision trees:

  • Emergencies: Soybeans may be used with oil and a grain in the second phase of emergency food distribution. In a longer-term emergency, soybeans may be provided in Food for Assets, Food for Work, Food for Training, as well as Vulnerable Group Feeding, and Food for Education programs. Either corn soy blend (CSB) or a ready-to-use supplementary food (RUSF) should be added as a targeted supplement to this ration, for children under two (U2). 
  • Development: Soybeans may be used as part of a general household ration where this is appropriate. Soybeans may also be provided in Food for Assets, Food for Work, Food for Training, as well as Vulnerable Group Feeding, and Food for Education programs.

Nutrition/Preparation Information

Soybeans are a staple legume crop in many parts of the world. They are frequently consumed in the United States, Asia and several countries in Africa (notably Nigeria and Uganda). They contain protein, carbohydrates, fat, and micronutrients. They are considered a complete source of plant-based protein because all of the essential amino acids are supplied. Soybeans are also a good source of calcium, folic acid, iron, and dietary fiber. Soybeans can be grown in a wide variety of soil and climates and upon processing, can be made into diverse products including edible and non-edible oils, miso, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and soy flour based products. Soybeans should be soaked prior to cooking to reduce cooking time. To prepare, soak soybeans in water for six to eight hours, boil in water for five minutes, remove from heat, cover, and allow beans to stand for one hour. For soybean and soy product recipes refer to the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health.

USDA Nutrient Database

From the USDA Nutrient Database, search for:

USDA Commodity Requirements Document

Shelf Life/Best if Used By Date (BUBD)

  • Shelf Life - not available
  • BUBD - not available. USDA FGIS Official Certificates With Crop Year Statement may be available as a substitute.


Soyfoods Association of North America. N.D. Soy Fact Sheets. Whole Soybeans. Retrieved on September 30, 2016 from:

Soya. N.D. What are soybeans? Retrieved on September 30, 2016 from:

Spectrum Commodities. 2016. World Production and Supply/Demand May 10,2016. Retrieved on September 30, 2016 from:

Thoenes, T. 2006. Background paper for the Competitive Commercial Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa (CCAA) Study. Soybean: International Commodity Profile.  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

U.S. Soybean Export Council. 2012. Buyer’s Guide. U.S. Soy Export Council. Retrieved on September 30, 2016 from:

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2015. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page. Retrieved September 30, 2016 from:

United States Department of Agriculture. Farm Services Agency.  2015. USDA Commodity Requirements Document: KCBG11 Bagged Grains for Use in International Food Assistance Programs.  Retrieved September 30, 2016 from:

Webb, P., B. Rogers, I. Rosenberg, N. Schlossman, C. Wanke, J. Bagriansky, K. Sadler, Q. Johnson, J. Tilahun, A. Reese Masterson, A. Narayan. 2011. Delivering Improved Nutrition: Recommendations for Changes to U.S. Food Aid Products and Programs. Retrieved September 30, 2016 from:

Last updated: November 22, 2016

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