US: Falling soy exports trigger focus on boosting new, old markets

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Alfribeiro
© GettyImages/Alfribeiro

Related tags Soybean China

The US Soybean Export Council is meeting with international customers to bolster markets and address the feed value of US soybeans in an effort to stem an anticipated fall in sales, says chairman.

The organization is working to generate a “preference and demand for US soy,” ​by establishing relationships with customers in global markets, said Derek Haigwood, US Soybean Export Council (USSEC) chairman. The export council works to maintain and develop new markets for soybean producers.

“We are currently conducting a multi-country tour wherein we are meeting with key global customers in markets ranging from Indonesia to Italy,” ​he told FeedNavigator. “Our objective is to ensure our key customers continue to have access to the US soy products they need and the technical and trade servicing they expect.”

US soybean producers saw record exports in the 2017/18 marketing year based on data from the US Census Bureau, reported the USSEC and United Soybean Board (USB). The marketing year for soybeans runs from October 1 through September 30.

About 2.6m bushels of soybeans and soy-derived products, with a value of more than $28bn, were sold during the 2017/18 marketing year, USSEC said. The exports also established a new record high for the total volume of soybean meal, soybeans and soybean oil exported, the USSEC said. Soybean meal saw the largest expansion.  

However, similar returns are not predicted for the ongoing 2018/19 marketing year, said Haigwood. Trade uncertainty and continuing tariffs​ on US soybeans imported to China are expected to cause a drop in export numbers for this marketing year.

Exports in the past marketing year likely saw little influence from the tariffs because many of the sales for soybeans or ingredients ingredient going to China come in the October to December period following US harvest, the USSEC added. 

A recent forecast​ from the US Department of Agriculture anticipated a 3bn reduction in agricultural exports based, in part, on slow soybean sales.

Mitigation efforts address market access

The export council seeks to provide access to soybeans or soy-derived ingredients, said Haigwood.

“We will continue to work with our partners and in other international markets where we operate toward that goal,”​ he added.

USSEC members have launched the “What it takes” ​program to give industry stakeholders a platform to speak with buyers about the feed value of US-grown soy, the organization said. The program is part of the effort to expand markets for soybeans or soy ingredients and mitigation the drop in exports to China.

The organization also is increasing its efforts to grow international markets for US grown soybean beans, or soy-derived products, the USSEC said.  

“Approximately 60% of the soy grown in the US is exported to international markets, which means that the small farmers that grow US soy strongly depend on the support of global markets to provide for their families,”​ Haigwood said.

The organization is working to provide for the needs of international markets, he said. “We will continue to work with our partners and in other international markets where we operate toward that goal,”​ he added.

The American Soybean Association was among the 57 organizations recently awarded​ funding from the US Department of Agriculture to support work focused on building or expanding current markets through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program. The program​ one of three was established to help producers who saw market damage from tariffs.

ASA received approximately $21.9m in funding through the program.

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