An agricultural product grown throughout the United States and other countries. Futures and options on soybeans have been traded on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) since 1936. The soybean can be broken down into soy oil and soy meal. Futures and options contracts for these component parts also are traded on the CBOT, as well as other futures exchanges throughout the world. Trading of soy meal contracts began in 1951 while trading on soy oil contracts began in 1950. Monthly crop reports produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are closely watched by soybean traders because they give information about expected supply, which will directly affect prices.
Soy meal, the solid part of the bean, is used to create a variety of food products, such as tofu, soy milk, flour, cheese, and soy burgers. Soy oil is low in saturated fats and thus is helpful for reducing heart disease. It is believed that the isoflavones in soybeans may help reduce the chances of contracting certain types of cancer.