News: Asia Subcontinent
In Sri Lanka, USSEC has had two significant landmarks that helped obtain market access for U.S. Soy: the acceptance of genetically modified (GM) soybean meal for use in animal feeds and a zero customs tariff for imports.
In 2008, Dr. Athula Mahamage was appointed as USSEC’s Sri Lanka country representative and his concerted efforts with local influencers and policy makers helped lead to these accomplishments. As a result of this and the continued tech and trade efforts by Dr. Athula, the U.S. Soy industry has enjoyed a steady increase in the soybean meal market share in Sri Lanka. The country imported about 220,000 metric tons (MT) of soy meal in 2015/16, of which 70 percent is U.S. soybean meal.
However, markets change, policies get altered, and government rules are amended. Caught in one such transformation was the reversal of customs duty on soybean meal that was notified by the Sri Lankan Government in November 2016. The duty, which was set at 15 percent, put Dr. Athula and his team (members of the animal husbandry, finance ministry, and trade associations in the livestock and poultry industry) on alert. They worked strategically to bring the duty down to 5 percent in December 2016. As a next step, the team convinced the authorities at the finance ministry on the importance of soybean meal, which supports a growing poultry/animal feed industry in the country and has successfully gotten soybean meal listed in the Gazette Notification as an “exempted item” for customs duty. Competitiveness for U.S. soybean meal entering Sri Lanka was hampered slightly but has been successfully restored back to its original state.
Market access is a priority area for USSEC’s global market reach. Constraints of different natures exist in different countries and some issues may even crop up from nowhere like the one cited here. Continued efforts in this area ensure markets for U.S. Soy.
USSEC recently attended the Pakistan Edible Oils Conference (PEOC) and visited customers in Pakistan, in addition to holding Asia Subcontinent (ASC) staff planning meetings in India.
USSEC CEO Jim Sutter and USSEC Acting ASC Regional Lead and Marketing Director – Animal Nutrition Pam Helmsing traveled to New Delhi and Agra, India and Karachi and Lahore, Pakistan from January 13 – 26. During that time, they met with customers and potential customers of U.S. Soy in Pakistan to hear about their markets and concerns and talk about the value of U.S. Soy; Mr. Sutter spoke at the PEOC event; and they worked with the ASC team to plan for the execution of existing and future programs.
Mr. Sutter addressed approximately 500 attendees at PEOC, speaking about the value and sustainability of U.S. Soy. After the PEOC event, meetings with Pakistani crushers and feed mills took place.
USSEC’s plans in Pakistan include: technical training for the solvent extractor industry; nutritional expertise for the poultry industry; possible assistance with demand building for poultry, including nutritional information and countering junk science that says poultry is harmful; possible U.S. Soy oil promotion assistance to position soy oil as a premium brand; and the possibility of bringing a group to Kansas State University for soybean procurement training through a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Cochran grant.
Palm and canola currently dominate the oil market in Pakistan, although soybean imports for crush have increased dramatically. The industry recognizes that oil produced with U.S. Soy is lighter in color and has a lower cost of processing than soy from South America. There continues to be a preference for canola and palm, however, because of higher oil contents and consumer preference. Pakistani crushers are very price sensitive. They admit that they are unable to take U.S. Soy and produce as high a quality of soybean meal as can be imported from the U.S. and are anxious to learn how to improve their processes to do so.
Because purchases of soy by individual companies are rather small, purchases are usually made with multiple consignors. This means competitors are getting the same quality at the same price at the same time, which leads to consensus opinions about the quality and/or issues with product from a given country or supplier. This is true for both soybean meal and whole beans. The industry is moving toward some bulk handling.
The feed industry also recognizes the difference in quality between U.S. soybean meal and meal produced locally from U.S. beans. They note that the quality is improving. The feed industry is sophisticated and recognizes the value of U.S. Soy, both intrinsic and extrinsic advantages, and is looking for ways to calculate what premium they can afford to pay for U.S. origin.
The poultry industry has been growing at a rate of eight to ten percent yearly, but there are some plateau years. Profitability is low, with chicken at about two-thirds the price of lentils. The two major barriers to growth in chicken consumption are poverty and misinformation about the quality of poultry meat. The Pakistan Poultry Association is planning a feeding program at a few public schools, providing eggs and chicken legs to children and will collect data to show improvements in health, school attendance and learning.
USSEC recently conducted a soy demand-building event in Kandy, Sri Lanka as an extension of a two-day national event planned by the Sri Lankan government to educate audiences about protein. About 500 participants attended this event with a significant group including influencers from the government, scientists, and representatives from the animal feed and protein trade industry.
USSEC consultants in Sri Lanka and southern India, Dr. Athula Mahagamage and Dr. Yadunandan, led the conference. Dr. Mahagamage delivered a lecture on importance of protein and how Sri Lanka has been able to increase the production of chicken and eggs to meet growing demand. The session was also used to demystify perceptions about processes employed in chicken production, which was identified as a minor constraint that hampered chicken consumption in the country despite stable demand. During his lecture, Dr. Mahagamage shared data on the utilization of U.S soybean meal in the Sri Lankan poultry industry, emphasizing that the quality meat and positive economics seen in production economics are due to the superior quality and consistent supply of U.S soybean meal.
Drs. Mahagamage and Yadunandan also conducted a closed room discussion with the animal husbandry department, poultry farmers, and veterinary college faculties. Participants agreed on the importance of developing further strategies to increase chicken and egg production in Sri Lanka. Mr. Jayan, owner of Jaya farms, a leading poultry enterprise, pointed out that how U.S soybean meal has contributed to the development of Sri Lanka’s poultry industry.
Mithreepala Sirisena, president of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, attended the event’s second day. The 304 participants included officials from various government departments, teachers, animal husbandry officials, poultry farmers, and feed millers. Dr. Mahagamage invited two external speakers, Dr. Gamini Jayakody, consultant physician to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health and Dr. Nimal Priyankarage, head of nutrition at the Veterinary Research Institute, to speak at the event and focus on nutrition and nutritional factors. Dr. Priyankarage spoke on high quality protein and how to differentiate complete and incomplete proteins. While speaking on amino acid composition in vegetable and animal proteins, he stressed that only soybeans offer an almost complete profile of amino acids.
USSEC participated in the Pakistan Edible Oil Conference (PEOC) in Karachi, Pakistan on January 21.
USSEC CEO Jim Sutter spoke to attendees on the topic “Soybeans: Sustainably Produced and Packed with Protein.”
In addition to talking about the sustainable manner in which U.S. soybeans are produced and explaining how sustainability is a new benchmark, Mr. Sutter also discussed growing protein consumption around the world and how to evaluate protein.
The presentation’s positive message focused on how consumers are demanding sustainably produced products, which U.S. Soy can deliver.
U.S. Soy grower leaders visited Nepal for the first Asia Subcontinent Trade Buyers Conference (ABC2016) from November 8 – 11.
The Asia Subcontinent Buyers Conference marked the region’s first buyers’ conference. USSEC, along with the support of the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offered the conference as a regional opportunity for buyers and sellers of U.S. soy, corn, and grain to promote additional knowledge through which stronger relationships can be built for a prosperous and stable future.
The Asia Subcontinent (ASC) region, comprised of the countries of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, has emerged as a relatively new market for U.S soy and corn products. International commodity traders and exporters as well as buyers from the ASC region have shown growing interest in exploring opportunities and seeking solutions for the continued demand of agri-inputs. The U.S. agriculture sector has made significant contributions in this region by providing solutions and support to various industries’ technical and trade needs and is considered to be a preferred supplier of services and commodities.
USSEC chairman and American Soybean Association (ASA) director Jim Miller presented remarks on sustainability on his farm.
ASA president Richard Wilkins provided an overview of the U.S. political landscape post-election, the possible effects on U.S. agriculture, and also discussed sustainable practices on his farm.
USDA provided a regional overview from the viewpoint of U.S. agriculture, while USSEC and USGC provided a look at the ASC market, including how the region’s market demand has developed over the past five years, present developments and future requirements by 2020.
With the continued growth of U.S. soybean exports to Pakistan, USSEC has taken on responsibility for trade and technical serving efforts targeting oilseed crushers, feed millers, and the poultry industry. U.S. Soy family efforts began in the 1990s when Pakistan used minimal levels of soybean meal in their poultry rations and sourced what they did use primarily from India. During the last five years, the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) has built on the original work and expanded the commercial network for the U.S. Soy value chain in Pakistan; one strategy has involved leveraging soybean farmer resources with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding from programs such as the FEEDing Pakistan aquaculture project. Over the past 20 months, Pakistan has imported over 393,000 metric tons (MT) of whole soybeans and soybean meal from the United States, for an estimated value exceeding $140 million.
WISHH and USSEC are now executing a shift of programmatic responsibilities, and ensuring that adequate FY 2017 funding is available to further develop U.S. Soy markets in Pakistan. The FY 2017 initiatives include trade servicing and technical assistance as well as information exchanges on the large and complex Pakistan market. USSEC will provide technical assistance to Pakistani buyers and crushers and support their participation in USSEC training and exchange activities.
As USSEC takes on the management of most market development activities, WISHH will complete the final year of the FEEDing Pakistan aquaculture program, which has built a market for soy-based floating fish feed and introduced tilapia to the commercial market. WISHH will continue to pursue similar, non-traditional funding in Pakistan (outside of the usual USDA/Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) funding streams of the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) in close collaboration with USSEC.
“The progress in the Pakistan market shows that WISHH is a trailblazer for the U.S. soybean trade,” said WISHH committee chair Daryl Cates.
“We are proud to build on many years of U.S. Soy activity in Pakistan,” added USSEC chairman Jim Miller. “We look forward to taking on key programs in Pakistan to create further demand for U.S. Soy by providing our full range of services to Pakistani Customers – these will include technical and trade servicing plus applicable market access work. We also look forward to collaborating with WISHH who will be finishing out the fourth year of their Feeding Pakistan Aquaculture Project in fiscal 2017.”
WISHH is a trade-development program, headquartered at the American Soybean Association, in St. Louis. Since U.S. soybean farmers founded WISHH in 2000, it has worked in 24 countries to develop long-term markets for U.S. soybean farmers while fueling economic growth and value chain development.
The U.S. Soybean Export Council aims to maximize the use of U.S. Soy internationally by meeting the needs of global customers that use U.S. Soy in human food and feed for poultry, livestock and fish. The organization uses a global network of stakeholder partnerships, including soybean farmers, exporters, agribusinesses, agricultural organizations, researchers and government agencies, to accomplish that mission. USSEC programs are partially funded by the United Soybean Board (USB) and by Foreign Agricultural Service funds provided by the American Soybean Association.
USSEC, in cooperation with India’s PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, recently organized a workshop on the role of soy in health and nutrition in New Delhi.
J.P. Meena, Special Secretary, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, wants to establish a partnership between soy producers and processors, given soy’s protein and other nutritional value for large-scale consumption. Mr. Meena emphasized the role of soy to combat malnutrition in India and suggested a large-scale campaign similar to the one promoting eggs to be launched for soy products as well.
USSEC Director – India Food Program Dr. Ratan Sharma spoke at the event, describing soy’s nutritional qualities: “Soy is a highly nutritious food. Soybeans are one of the very few plants that provide a high quality protein with minimum saturated fat.” He continued, “Soybeans contain all of the three macronutrients required for good nutrition, as well as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Soybeans help people feel better and live longer with an enhanced quality of life. Soy contains 40 percent protein, making it higher in protein than any other legumes and many animal products. Protein in just 250 grams of soybean is equivalent to protein in 3 liters of milk or 1 kilogram of mutton or 24 eggs.”
Dr. Sharma also discussed various soy products, including soy milk, tofu, soy nuggets, soy fortified wheat and graham flour, and soy-based dal analogue, saying that these products have been produced using high-end processing, and that they are tasty and safe for consumption.
He further accentuated that soy could be an excellent solution to reduce the protein calorie malnutrition in India and that the Indian government should include soy as a main nutritional ingredient for various supplementary nutrition and welfare programs. Dr. Sharma pointed out that soy-fortified wheat flour can be widely used in the public distribution system and that India imports more than five million metric tons (MMT) of dal (lentils) from other countries. He believes that the government should promote soy-based dal analogue because it is less expensive than traditional dal and superior in nutrition.
John Slette, Senior Attaché for Agriculture Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in India, emphasized the role of soy in food and nutrition security in the country. Mr. Slette was very positive about the efforts that the Indian government is making to fight malnutrition and suggested that soy products could be a cheaper source of protein for India’s population.