2015 U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange Offers a Varied Collection of Speakers
- General News
The 2015 U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange offered general and breakout sessions fitted to the interests of all participants. Over the course of two days, trade teams, exhibitors, grower leaders and other guests heard from experts in the areas of economics, leadership, sustainability, food, feed and transportation. The presentations are available for viewing at: https://grainconference.org/Presentations.php.
Chip Flory, editorial director of Pro Farmer and host of Market Rally Radio, provided a U.S. crop report and global soy and grain demand outlook.
A panel of international food and feed buyers followed, with the theme of “Why I Buy, What I Buy, Where I Buy—To Meet Our Customers’ Needs.” Toshihiro Shinohara, director of the soybean department at Sanko Food in Japan; Dr. Soon-Bin Neoh, managing director of Soon Soon Group in Malaysia; and Djamal Djouhri, CEO of Al Ghurair Resources LLC in the UAE each gave a presentation discussing his buying experience.
Mr. Shinohara pegged Japan’s soybean consumption at 3 million metric tons (MMT). He described Japan’s conditions of processing as non-GMO, thorough identity preserved (IP) handling, positive list history, timely delivery and price. “Freshness and quality need to be consistent,” he stated. Japan expects a stable supply of non-GMO IP food beans, new seed development to meet specific needs of the market such as white hilum for miso and permanent support via USSEC, he said. “One of the summary points is it takes a real team,” he concluded.
Dr. Neoh said that Asia imported 87 MT of soybeans in 2014/15. Because there is no crush industry in Malaysia, beans are imported for food use. Value is based on moisture, protein, oil content and protein dispersion index (PDI).
“The higher the PDI,” stated Dr. Neoh, “the higher the value. The U.S. has a very high PDI.”
Mr. Djourhi reminded the audience that there would be an additional two billion people in the world by the year 2050, underscoring the need for quality protein sources. He gave the reasons of uninterrupted availability of crops, reliability in the logistics, frame contract, solving problems in quality, and the right price for the right quality as factors of where he chooses to source his soy.
Conference goers were next able to choose between sessions on transportation, global trends or co-ops. “Transportation—West Coast Shipping Recovery & Future Outlook” featured Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition in Washington, D.C.; Gregg Hoffman, senior merchant, United Grain Corporation in Vancouver, WA; and Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.
Another group of breakout sessions provided a choice between transportation, U.S. food grade soybean supply outlook and international protein demand. Ken Eriksen, senior vice president of transportation, industrial and energy services of Informa in Memphis, presented “Opening of the Panama Canal in 2016 and its Anticipated Impact on Global Soy & Grain Transportation.” The U.S. Food Grade Soybean Supply Outlook Panel was presented by speakers from four production regions: David Martin, president of Bluegrass Farms of Ohio in Jeffersonville, OH; Rob Prather, Huron Commodities, Monticello, IL; Chris Arnold, Scoular Company, Omaha, NE; and Rick Brandenburger, president of Richland IFC in Breckenridge, MN. Informa senior vice president Rob D. Murphy spoke about international protein demand.
Mr. Eriksen detailed key Panama Canal expansion efforts, mentioning that a third set of locks would be added, in addition to a Pacific access channel, additional dredging, and improvements to the water supply, adding that “25-27 million gallons of fresh water are needed to flush each large ship through.”
Currently, 3 out of 10 bushels of U.S. grains and soybeans pass through the Panama Canal.
He described the expansion as a “monumental undertaking” and pondered what the bigger ships (currently the largest size is referred to as ‘Panamax’) would be called. “Post-Panamax vessels? Neo-Panamax vessels?” he asked. “Doggone it, they’re just bigger ships.”
The expansion of the Panama Canal will offer competition for many nations, he added, and will not be obsolete for a long time to come.
Mr. Eriksen concluded, “When we build infrastructure, we build not just for tomorrow, but for tomorrow’s tomorrows.”
The last group of breakout sessions offered options varying from transportation, labeling, and risk management. “Transportation—Agricultural Shippers’ Perspectives—Navigating Transportation Options to Best Serve our Customers” was anchored by Mike Henderson, merchandiser, International Feed, Long Lake, MN and Ron Marshall, general manager, Toyota Tsusho America, Inc., Elk Grove Village, IL. “U.S. Third Party Verification & Auditing Programs for Voluntary Food Labeling for non-GMO, Food Safety, Halal, Kosher & Other Product Traits” featured Steve Ross, manager of field operations, “USDA Process Verification Program,” USDA Agricultural Marketing Services; Edwin Pearce Smith, lab manager, Erofins GeneScan USA; and Nova Sayers, senior business development manager, NSF Consumer Values Verified. “Tools for Risk Management” was presented by Steven Stasys, director of agricultural options at the CME Group in Chicago, IL.
On Friday, September 11, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota spoke to conference participants.
Dr. Jay H. Bryson, managing director and global economist at Wells Fargo in Charlotte, NC, gave the keynote address. Dr. Bryson spoke about the outlook for the world economy and international trade.
Breakout sessions followed, offering participants a choice between hearing about sustainability, emerging growth markets or soybean meal’s feed nutritional value. Henk Flipsen, director, NEVEDI Dutch Feed Industry Association in Rotterdam, Netherlands; Eric Rosenburg, vice president at Bryant Christie Inc. in Seattle, WA; and Brent Babb, USSEC Regional Director – EU/MENA presented “Sustainability—How the Global Marketplace Benefits from the Sustainability of U.S. Soy.” “Emerging Growth Markets for Specialty Grains & Soybeans” featured Beth Robertson-Martin, sourcing lead for organic, natural and non-GMO ingredients from General Mills and Becky Starr, western regional manager for Harvest Innovations in Indianola, IA. “Feed Nutritional Value of Soybean Meal—Amino Acids: Does Origin Really Matter?” was presented by Dr. Hans Stein of the National Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois in Champagne, IL.
British author, journalist and environmental activist Mark Lynas was the final speaker, presenting “Get to Know your GMOs.” Mr. Lynas was a well-known anti-GMO activist from 1995-2001, but changed his viewpoint after realizing that his views were not based on science.
As he was researching the books he was writing about climate change, he recognized that his stance on that subject was scientific, but his view on GMOs was not. The bottom line, Mr. Lynas, stated, is research.
“I was really proud that I was starting to think more like a scientist than an activist.”
He added that believing in science says that you must sometimes change your mind.
“You can’t just listen to the scientists on climate change and ignore them on the GMO issue.”
Mr. Lynas said that fear and emotion are an effective combination because “science speaks to the head, while emotion speaks to the heart.”
He closed by saying that he feels the tide may be turning as more mainstream media and well-known scientists are backing the science behind GMOs. Developing countries such as Tanzania and Bangladesh may lead the way, he stated.