Export body looks to diversify market opportunities for US soy

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/stu99
© GettyImages/stu99

Related tags Soy sustainable production Export

Though the world economy has struggled under COVID-19, the trade of soy has remained strong, says the head the US Soybean Export Council (USSEC).

Soybean demand is consistent in China, with 60% of soy exported around the world ending up there, but beyond that Asian economy, building and maintaining relationships with other countries to diversify marketing opportunities for US produced soy remains just as important, said Jim Sutter, CEO, USSEC.

“A few years ago, even before the China trade war was on the horizon, we worked with United Soy Board (USB) on a strategy that had us investing a larger portion of our resources that we use for international marketing work every year into emerging markets,”​ he said. “These are places that have large populations, growing economies and very low per capita consumption of protein. We believe those will be the markets of the future.”

He was speaking on a panel during last month’s Ag Outlook Forum co-hosted by the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City and Agri-Pulse.

Trade is key for US soy production, given that around 40% of US soy is used domestically, leaving the remainder to be exported each year.  

As USSEC works to build relationships in foreign markets and ensure export reliability, Sutter is optimistic that trade opportunities will continue for US soy.

“Understanding customers’ needs in foreign markets and having boots on the ground to represent US soy in person is a strong priority for the USB, which is USSEC’s main funding partner, and the Foreign Ag Service, a part of the USDA that is also a funder,” ​Sutter said.

While the soybean industry is a growth business, it is one that requires strategic partnership, reliability and relationship management, said the USSEC lead.

“People around the world are relying on us to be a reliable supplier, and when we take steps that question that, they look to other potential suppliers,” ​he stressed.

Moreover, he said, as US consumers ask more questions about where and how their food is produced, US soybean farmers’ focus on conservation and sustainable production practices becomes even more important.

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