News: Asia Subcontinent
Coinciding with the introduction of a soy-based, multigrain dal maker in India’s third largest city, Chennai, USSEC conducted a promotional event on November 24 focused on increasing awareness and demonstrating multiple regional food product feasibility though a unique ‘do how’ program. About 150 participants representing the bulk-consuming segment including hotels, restaurants, catering and food service establishments, attended the event.
Dal is one of India’s most popular dishes. It is traditionally made of lentils, peas, or beans, which are split, dried and stripped of their hulls. It is often eaten with rice as a side dish or included in other dishes.
USSEC Director – India Soy Food Program Dr. M. M. Krishna addressed the participants and explained the important features of the soy-based multigrain dal maker in terms of its superior nutrition delivery and affordability besides its preeminent suitability for use as the base food in a variety of region specific food products such as sambar (dal soup with vegetables and spices) and dal with vegetables, in addition to other main dishes, starters and snack products. Mr. Awesh Jain, project head from Ruchi Soya Industries, communicated the unique manufacturing process as well as the rigid quality systems used in production. He also highlighted the market potential for the product, particularly as a source of affordable protein for the bottom of the pyramid population. The soy-based multigrain dal maker received the highest endorsement from a celebrity culinary expert and celebrated chef in Chennai. The head of Ruchi Soya’s sales-promoting company explained distribution arrangements to all the potential users.
The highlight of the event was a ‘do how’ show, given by the hotel’s executive chef and his team. They gave a step-by-step demonstration on preparing great tasting dishes based on soy-based multigrain dal maker. The products included regional specialties such as sambar, vegetable dal, dal vada (a deep fried starter snack made with dal maker), dal halwa (a sweet dessert prepared with dal maker, sugar, butter, oil, and dried fruits and nuts).
Nearly 110 people participated in the scoring of products and feedback. There was overwhelming acceptance of the products demonstrated during the event. The average score of excellent and good was 96 percent, with a range of 92 to 99 percent for different products.
Because the participants were mainly from the consuming industry (hotels, restaurants, food service, hospitality, etc.), the venue also served as an effective buyer – seller meet. Many of the participants have solicited commercial information and details of outlets for sourcing.
This unique event in a large metro city with a very high percentage of middle and bottom of the pyramid population with a high consumption of dal will catalyze market-building and growth in consumption of the dal analogue and help increase domestic consumption of soy in India.
Instead of communicating end-use application recipes for soy-based staples, USSEC has made a significant change to actually demonstrate the preparation of regional specific foods based on soy staples such as dal and food analogues. This shift from ‘know how’ to ‘do how’ has been found to be significantly impactful and more effective in capturing the consumer’s interest in the products.
USSEC also conducted an important ‘do how’ event for soy-based dal maker and food analogues in Visakhapatnam, the largest city in the state of Andhra Pradesh back on February 9, 2015. The city has the largest number of institutional catering and college/university hostels, etc. An initial study conducted by USSEC gave encouraging demand leads for the products. 110 senior operating and purchase functionaries from hospitality industry as well as by the food trade and academia participated in the event.
The demand-building event designed as a ‘do how’ demonstration event was aimed at actually demonstrating the preparation of great tasting region specific foods. The executive chef of Hotel Daspalla, Visakhapatnam, performed the ‘do how’ demonstration. In all, nine region-specific dal based traditional foods were demonstrated and all the participants sampled these products. The products received an overwhelming response from all the participants. More than 80 percent of the participants rated the products as great tasting and highly acceptable. Presentations made by Ruchi Soya and USSEC on dal and food analogues and the health and nutrition benefits of soy were well received and discussed by the participants.
The event has generated great interest among the participating food service and hospitality industry personnel as well as with the trade. One large distributor of commodities for the hotel industry instantly placed a trial order for soy-based dal analogue and he is hopeful of building demand significantly in the next few months.
The most recent issue of USDA Oilseeds Markets and Trade highlights the rapid transition in India from soybean meal exporter to domestic consumer. Although the country was once a significant regional exporter of soybean meal, India is unlikely to regain export market share in the coming year. India’s domestic use of soybean products has been expanding. Historically, the country consumed the oil and exported excess meal. Growth in domestic poultry and egg production has increased the demand for protein meal. Rising demand for soybean meal has coincided with a drop in soybean production, tightening supplies and pushing local prices significantly above world levels.
This has led to a decline in Indian soybean meal exports, particularly to distant markets. Last year, nearly half of the exports went by surface trade to neighboring markets, primarily Bangladesh and Pakistan. Yet these rapidly growing markets are seeking alternative suppliers, purchasing not only more affordable soybean meal but also soybeans. India’s strong domestic use and declining export prospects appear likely to continue into the future, potentially ending its status as a net exporter. These circumstances may provide opportunities for the United States and South America to expand shipments to Asia.
Adding to the above report, USSEC Deputy Regional Director – ASC Dr. P.E. Vijay Anand stated that the human food and the aquaculture industries also depend on soy products as protein sources in addition to the poultry and egg production sectors. Recently, the use of texturized soy products (TSP) and other soy flour variants used in the human food industry has grown significantly. Increasing prices of vegetables and all time high prices of pulses further fuels the growth. Consumers are drawn towards the fact that TSP can be obtained at a quarter of the cost of pulses and with twice the protein content. On the aquaculture front, 15-20 percent growth in the shrimp industry has led to increased feed production and soy consumption. Inconsistent supply and the high cost of fishmeal have also contributed to the increased use of soy meal. The freshwater fish feed industry that relies solely on plant protein sources is another consistent user of soy meal. Soy usage in the feed and food industries will continue and lead to more domestic utilization of India’s soy production.
As part of the promotional activities to popularize the use of soybean oil in food processing applications and as an edible oil of choice, USSEC India conducted a focused event, “Soybean Oil for Health and Wellness,” to a broad cross section of baking industry professionals and food service operators in Kochi on August 8. Kochi is the largest city in the state of Kerala and is regarded as the state’s bakery capital. The event was conducted jointly with the All Kerala Bread Manufacturers Association. The baking and food service segments were targeted since they represent significant consumption of edible oils.
Approximately 70 participants from the baking and food service industries, including senior personnel from the county’s largest bread making company, Hindustan Unilever Modern Food Industries, and other important opinion leaders from the industry and consumer segments, participated in the event.
The health and nutritional attributes of soybean oil in terms of its favorable fatty acid composition and its enhanced value as a good source of other health promoting bio-actives including Omega 3 fatty acids, Tocopherol, Phyto-sterols and Stannols, were presented and discussed by USSEC Director – India Soy Food Program M. M. Krishna. Food and nutrition industry consultant Dr. Suresh Itapu detailed the preferred use of soybean oil as an ingredient in bakery products such as bread, rolls and cookies. Master baker Shorya Kapoor and faculty members from the Assocom Institute of Baking Technology and Management in Noida conducted the on-site baking demonstrations for bread, rolls and cookies. Baking demonstrations illustrated the nutritional, functional and economic benefits of using high protein dispersibility index (PDI) Soy flour in bread and rolls formulations in conjunction with soybean oil.
The senior general manager of Hindustan Unilever Modern Food Industries talked about soybean oil as a preferred source of fat for the baked products. The senior general manager of Sakthi Soya in Coimbatore explained the aspects of availability of the desired quality of high PDI Soy flour and its estimated cost and supply logistics.
The participating bakers and food service professionals evaluated the products made with soybean oil and found these highly acceptable from the point of organoleptics as well as economics.
On July 24, USSEC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)/ Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) met over a working lunch in Indore, central India.
USSEC India invited Minister Counselor, USDA/FAS, New Delhi Scott Sindelar and Agriculture Specialist/Oil Seed Analyst, USDA/FAS New Delhi Amit Aradhey to this meeting. USSEC Director International Program Strategy & Research/Regional Director – ASC Drew Klein moderated the meeting and discussions. American Soybean Association (ASA) vice president Bret Davis and United Soybean Board (USB) director C.D. Simmons had an opportunity to hear views and market assessments expressed by the USDA in New Delhi. USSEC consultant Paul Smolen and USSEC Marketing Director – Animal Nutrition/Meal Pam Helmsing were also present at the meeting, along with USSEC India consultants.
The group discussed the upcoming regional meetings and plans to retain part-time consultants in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in order to further nurture these markets for U.S. Soy imports. Another key topic of discussion was GM issues prevalent in the ASC region and the group reviewed possible approaches to address non-tariff barriers. Mr. Sindelar thanked USSEC for its recent Emerging Market Program (EMP) proposal, which envisions a collaborative approach with the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) to initiate a low-key education approach for government, industry and media to spell out the benefits of GMOs. Mr. Sindelar also suggested that the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling allowing frozen chicken imports from the U.S. could strengthen USSEC’s arguments in favor of a pro-GM position. The group exchanged views on India’s ability to model other Asian growth economies such as China and Korea. It was also noted that there are positive statements on economic growth from the Indian political leadership regarding GMOs. Ideas were floated on the use of market access programs to set up a business incubator for local entrepreneurs. FAS used a recent seminar by the California Walnut Commission where acclaimed Indian experts talked about the health benefits of walnuts as a possible model for future work.
The Compound Livestock Feed Manufacturers Association of India (CLFMA), the national trade association that primarily focuses on livestock and poultry feed industry, has extended its interests to aquaculture and requested USSEC to design and implement an aquaculture workshop for entrepreneurs in East India.
Kolkata, situated in the province of West Bengal, is an area that depends on fish for daily food, a food habit primarily driven by culture. West Bengal produces about 1.58 million tons of fish per annum and is second only to the province of Andhra Pradesh, which produces about 2 million tons of fish annually. While Andhra Pradesh uses 35,000 metric tons (MT) of fish feed every month, West Bengal uses only about 3,500 MT per month indicating the need for the adoption of feed technology and the use of advanced fish farming technology. With this objective in mind, CLFMA and USSEC decided to collaborate on a workshop to influence change in market behavior and enhance the use of soy-based fish feed in the region.
USSEC’s feed program has listed capacity utilization of feed mills through market diversification and species diversification as its priorities – the outcome is envisioned as increased soy utilization due to increased feed marketing, says Dr. Vijay Anand who heads the feed/soy meal program for India. The agreement for this event was that USSEC would plan content and provide resource people required for the workshop while CLFMA would bear venue/event expenses, and would be responsible for inviting potential entrepreneurs from the region. Through this arrangement, the industry trade body contributed 50 percent of the funding for the event and also provided office and manpower support that helped extend the marketing reach.
Six renowned resource professionals directly connected with the fish and shrimp sectors of the aquaculture industry were engaged by USSEC to impart technology and trade messages to the 96 entrepreneurs who attended the interactive workshop. Officials of the state government took keen interest in the workshop to grasp technologies and absorb them into government support programs.
This is the second workshop that USSEC has conducted in the region in the past two years and since then, there have been significant inroads made in the utilization of soy-based fish feeds, said R. Umakanth, aquaculture consultant for USSEC India. Deliberations and recommendations made at this workshop further motivated the industry to advance its aquaculture status to produce more fish and shrimp in the region. Dr. Anand adds that collaborating with CLFMA on various soy utilization aspects is advantageous to USSEC because it is a trade body that frequently works with the Government of India and is directly associated with utilization and promotion of the animal feed industry in India.
USSEC’s national event, “Soy Partnership Summit (SPS) 2015,” was conducted on July 23 and 24 in Indore, India.
SPS has shown positive growth in popularity and commercial utility with unique features added to the event each year. Voluntary industry participation increased by 34 percent compared to last year’s event with approximately 400 people attending the main event on July 23. About 230 participants from 17 different Indian provinces comprised of soy buyers representing the utilization sector, mainly from animal feeds, attended.
The sellers’ side, comprised of soy crushers and traders, trust this event and has pitched in strongly with a 118 percent increase ($35,000) in funding support compared to $16,000 in 2014. For the first time, SOPA (Soybean Processors Association of India) hosted the opening dinner, along with providing additional support.
Participants provided feedback on five utility avenues: new knowledge received at the USSEC event; ample opportunity to express problems and seek solutions; networking heavily during the event; initiating trade talks and start booking soy meal orders; and, most of all, having access to a valuable, national data base of buyers’ and sellers’ contacts.
American Soybean Association (ASA) director Bret Davis and United Soybean Board (USB) director C.D. Simmons participated in this event, along with USSEC Director International Program Strategy & Research/Regional Director – ASC Drew Klein and USSEC Marketing Director – Animal Nutrition/Meal Pam Helmsing. Scott Sindelar, Foreign Agricultural Affairs (FAS) Minister-Counselor for Agricultural Affairs in India, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agriculture specialist Amit Aradhey stressed various aspects of U.S Soy and agriculture. Mr. Davis discussed the quality grading of U.S Soy and Mr. Simmons spoke on the sustainability of U.S Soy. These speeches gave participants a framework in which to compare advanced farming and trade process of the U.S as compared to India. The delegates from the U.S Soy industry inaugurated the event in the traditional Indian manner of lighting a lamp. The USSEC team participated with complete involvement, made impactful presentations that were appreciated by the industry and interacted with an array of industry contacts on the utilization as well as the soy production sectors, giving the event a strong U.S Soy emphasis.
WISHH consultant Masum Reja from Bangladesh and former USSEC consultant Dr. Athula Mahagamage of Sri Lanka spoke about U.S Soy trade at SPS 2015. They expressed how their countries are gradually changing their stands on sourcing U.S meal as opposed to meal from their immediate neighbor, India.
The SPS featured a global supply and demand (S&D) update that spelled out trade flows and global trends with the objective of aligning the soy stakeholders to international trade practices because there is always a disconnect between international and domestic prices of soy meal. USSEC consultant Paul Smolen talked about global S&D in great detail.
For the first time in India, USSEC gave a presentation on the “Science and Safety of Agri-Biotechnology.” The information and approaches to biotech aspects was received with full interest and understanding and this is a significant, positive move. Dr. C. S. Prakash, professor of plant genetics, biotechnology and genomics at Tuskegee University, cleared up myths and apprehensions that many Indians hold on biotech.
Two former USSEC program directors for the feed and food sectors, Dr. Dinesh Bhosale and Dr. Suresh Itapu, spoke on the current status and future potential for soy in animal feed and human food applications in India. These presentations elucidated pathways that have to be adopted by the Indian industry for building businesses using soy as an important protein input.
USSEC feed program consultants Dr. Vijay Anand and Dr. Pawan Kumar shared the index of industry interest on SPS that has developed year after year since its conceptualization in 2009. The second part of their presentation, “Soy Industry to our Knowledge,” aligned with facts and observations that were true to the industry. These in turn prompted discussions and formed the basis for analysis and understanding the soy industry and trade in India.
The post lunch session titled “The Soy Talk” is what many participants most look forward to: an opportunity to speak out and express their feelings on trade requirements. An almost full house and a 25-member panel comprised of industry stalwarts with experience debated on 14 different soy topics. The main concerns were S&D, price, quality, logistics and the need for the soy industry to recognize and cater to domestic protein requirements. Before the deliberations began, Mr. Sindelar addressed the audience, letting them know how the USDA works with Indian agriculture and trade to help India progress in different ways.
The event’s second day started with a motivational session where renowned writer Soma Valliappan presented his impressions on SPS. Following this session, and throughout the two days, buyers and sellers were networking to discuss trade and carry out their business. Some of them also engaged with crushers to go on field trips to their soy crushing facilities and arrive at soy buying agreements.
Many key organizations known for their trade strength and functions were part of the more than 400 participants at SPS 2015, including USGC; ADM; Bunge India; Cargill India; Compound Livestock Feed Manufacturers Association of India (CLFMA); Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEAI); Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association (SFPWA); National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC); Poultry Federation of India (PFI); Rabobank; Godrej Agrovet Ltd; Suguna Foods and Feeds; Venkateshwara Hatcheries; CP India; Indian Tobacco Company (ITC); Ruchi Soy; Adani Wilmar; Vippy Soya; and many more. Winning confidence and soliciting support from top ranking industry members is certainly an essential part of SPS that will help to foster trade and posterity.
USSEC was recently invited by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry to participate in its “Make in India” food processing conference. “Make in India” is a new, major national program of the Indian government and PHD is one of India’s top commerce and industry chambers, working closely with the Indian government to move their commercial and industrial agenda forward. This program was held in Madhya Pradesh, which is considered the soy bowl of India.
“Make in India” is the agenda of India’s current prime minister with a focus on inviting domestic and international investment in different areas including the food processing sector. The objective is to facilitate and strengthen domestic industry, create employment opportunities, and attract foreign direct investment (FDI).
USSEC suggested that a session on soy could be added to this conference. USSEC Director – India Soy Food Program Ratan Sharma participated as a speaker, delivering a lecture on the potential of soy food processing in India. In his speech, Dr. Sharma elaborated on soy food business opportunities, the role of soy in the food and nutritional security of India, and convinced the audience that soy food processing needs to be organized in India for India as it is most needed for Indians’ own food and feed uses, rather than selling it to other countries.
Dr. Sharma noted that it was encouraging to see two of India’s top food processors telling the panel and SOPA (Soy Oil Processors Association of India) officer that because India is an edible oil deficit country, they should import soybeans from countries where oil is plentiful. The processors explained that the value derived from the domestic market will be much better than the export, especially in the case of soy.
Dr. Sharma had the opportunity to personally meet the food processing minister (minister of state in Modi government). During a long conversation, Dr. Sharma discussed the present soy situation in India and the dependency on exports because soy processing is no longer a lucrative business. He suggested that her ministry could organize the soy processing business in India to meet the country’s own requirement for food and nutritional security and for poultry, aqua and animal utilization purposes. The minister assured Dr. Sharma that she will discuss this matter with the prime minister and will try to work on this issue from her ministry level as well. She covered these soy-related issues in her inaugural speech at the conference and also to the media, saying “capturing more and more value in India is the real meaning of ‘Make in India.’”
“Make in India” was well-covered by print and electronic media throughout the country.
The second “Make in India” food processing event was organized in Delhi by the CII (Confederation of Indian Industries), which is another influential chamber of commerce and industry. The cabinet minister of food processing was the chief guest. In a short meeting with the minister during the conference, Dr. Sharma discussed multiple taxation and the product approval problems which the soy industry is facing. The minister assured him that he will look into the multiple taxation issues in food products, especially with nutritional ingredients such as soy.
Scott Sindelar, FAS Minister-Counselor for Agricultural Affairs in India, gave a speech, mentioning that considering its oil as well as food and nutritional security, India should not depend only on its own produced soybeans but should go for imported alternatives, and he proposed that the U.S. is the best option for this.
The managing director of the SSP Pvt. Ltd. also emphasized the import of soybeans to meet Indian oil and food- and feed-related demands and to generate employment. SSP was one of the major sponsors of this event. During the session with the chief secretary (a senior Government of India (GOI) officer) of the food processing ministry, Dr. Sharma discussed soy-related issues, which the chief secretary discussed and noted.
This event was a strategic effort by USSEC to mobilize GOI resources toward organizing India’s soy food industry. The participation of FAS and its recommendations about the import of U.S. Soy made a great impact on the overall efforts and the future strategies of USSEC in India.
A soyfood supplier in Bhopal, India requested technical assistance from the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) to help them launch their soymilk powder for India’s school lunch program. India’s feeding and social welfare program covers more than 240 million beneficiaries. The Government of India awarded the bid to supply soymilk powder to one million children in government schools in Bhopal and nearby districts to Bio-Nutrients India. Using funds from MAP program F15AXASC99, USSEC will help the company in all aspects of this project from the procurement of quality soybeans to the production of quality soymilk powder and its further value addition. Additionally, USSEC will work to fortify the soymilk powder with mineral and vitamin premixes to enhance its nutritional value for the program as well as for general consumption. USSEC’s efforts have already helped to make soymilk powder available across the country in retail stores. Soymilk and tofu are flourishing soyfood sectors in India with more than 850 soymilk companies in India working on a small, medium and large scale production, consuming a large amount of whole soybeans. With no food utilization specific variety of soybeans currently grown in India, USSEC will promote food utilization specific non-GM U.S. soybeans suitable for the production of whole bean based soy products for food grade crush to produce soy flour in India. If India’s per capita direct consumption reaches the U.S. level, it would require 3,600,000 metric tons of soy or about 40% of India’s production. India’s huge population gives the U.S. soy industry leverage in direct consumption of soy in products such as soymilk.
A U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) team recently examined soy opportunities for feed and food applications in Sri Lanka, meeting with the commercial specialist for the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka and expressing USSEC’s renewed interest in the country due to its growing economy, sales and market share of U.S Soy. In 2013 and 2014, Sri Lanka imported 100,695 metric tons (MT) of U.S soybean meal valued at $58.29 million, partly due to residual effects of USSEC’s marketing efforts from 2008 to 2012. The team visited two poultry layer farms, which import 500 MT of U.S. soy regularly each month, to note developments in the country’s feed and human food sectors. The country’s largest chicken processor, Pussulla Meat Producers, operates 75 chicken outlets in Sri Lanka and is constructing a new feed mill, which is projected to use a monthly volume of 1000-1500 MT of U.S soybean meal. The USSEC team noted that Sri Lanka has developed a unique practice of marketing at least 75 percent of its chicken through cold chains, in contrast to India and other Asian countries where wet markets usually dominate. Sri Lanka’s chicken consumption grew from 5.5 kilogram (kg)/year to 8.5-9.0 kg/year in the past three years and is expected to reach the 12 kg mark in 2016 with consumption slated to further increase as the country’s economy improves and people seek more meat in their diets. The USSEC team also visited selected retail distribution outlets and grocery stores to examine the presence of soyfoods. The stores offered a full range of meat and fish products; soy products sold as meat substitutes were popular, with brands produced by five different manufacturers. Soymilk, soy protein supplements and soy oil also had a presence on the shelves. At a USSEC-hosted event, the USSEC’s ASC regional director provided remarks and took questions on USSEC and the U.S. soy industry from 21 invited industry guests. The guests represented poultry and egg producers, feed millers and technical consultants. GMO safety and regulation was also a topic of discussion. Overall, Sri Lanka’s industry looks positive with signs of increasing sales of poultry and eggs and an expanding economy.
USSEC Country Director – India Vijay Anand was interviewed by the Indian magazine “Think Grain, Think Feed.”
Dr. Anand’s cover interview focused on a number of pertinent topics, including USSEC’s role in India, the current crop outlook in India and worldwide, India’s soymeal exports and demand, the Soy Partnership Forum 2015, changes in the Indian livestock industry, the use of GM soy in animal feed, and future challenges to the Indian feed industry.
The magazine is published monthly in both electronic and print versions for India’s animal feed industry and its suppliers.
Dr. Anand’s interview is available to read in its entirety here: Interview with Dr. Vijay Anand of USSEC, India