News: North Asia
USSEC participated in the 11th China International Oils and Oilseeds Conference in south China’s Guangzhou City on November 9. American Soybean Association (ASA) director Sam Butler served as one of the panelists to discuss U.S. soybean production, soybean price trends, and the oils and oilseeds market.
The insights brought by domestic and international guest speakers attracted more than 1,000 participants to the event, including all of U.S. Soy’s key local customers and many of their downstream feed traders and dealers. The presentations delivered by U.S. soybean growers providing the latest soybean production information in the U.S. and elaborating on U.S. farmers’ marketing strategies were well received by the audience and the organizers. U.S. soybean growers presented the methods and techniques used in U.S. sustainable agriculture and reassured the Chinese audience, especially the end users, of the present and future reliability and sustainability of the U.S. soybean supply.
After the conference, Mr. Butler travelled to south China’s Guangxi province to visit two local customers, including Great Ocean Oils & Grains Industries (Fangchenggang) Co., Ltd., of Yihai Kerry Group and Huiyu Grains and Oils Industry Co., Ltd., of Jiusan Group (Huiyu Company) in Fangchenggang city. He discussed U.S. soybean production and quality in 2015 and 2016 with executives from the two local oil producers and stressed that amino acids are a better measure to evaluate the protein profile. Xiaoping Zhang, USSEC Country Director – China; Dr. Richard Han, USSEC Technical Director – Animal Utilization; and Yantian Zeng, USSEC Marketing Program Manager, escorted Mr. Butler on the two-day trip.
The China International Oils and Oilseeds Conference is an annual event jointly organized by Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE) and Bursa Malaysia since 2006. The conference provides industry professionals with the latest oils and oilseeds information across a wide spectrum including production, processing and market outlook, among others. USSEC has sponsored this conference for more than 8 years.
USSEC recently participated in the 57th Japanese Vegetable Oil Industry New Year Event, kicking off 2017. Japan Oilseed Processors Association (JOPA), Japan Rice Bran Oil Industry Association, Japan Margarine Industry Association, Japan Oil & Fat Importers & Exporters Association, Japan Oil & Fat Wholesalers’ Association, and Japan Mayonnaise Manufacturers’ Association jointly organized this event. Nearly 500 particpants, ranging from oil manufacturers, wholesalers, traders, governments, and other relevant industries, attended this large event to pledge further progress of the Japanese vegetable oil industry together.
USSEC Country Director – Japan Mitsuyuki Nishimura, and Masako Tateishi, USSEC North Asia Regional Human Utilization Coordinator and HU Director – Japan represented the U.S. Soy industry.
During a congratulatory speech made by Takao Imamura, chairman of JOPA, and president and representative director of Nisshin Oillio Group, several important matters were noted as to what the Japanese vegetable oil industry needs to promptly prepare in order to respond to possible changes in external environments in 2017, including the next U.S. president’s plan to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a possible transition to direct discussion, an evaluation plan of mandatory country of origin labeling for all Japanese processed foods, and a plan for mandatory implementation of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) for food safety in Japan. Mr. Imamura also stressed the importance of further growing vegetable oil and sustainability demands throughout the industry because a vital food source is necessary in order for all generations to maintain health and to adjust proper physical function.
During a conversation between JOPA, USSEC, and the Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) Tokyo team during the reception, the executive director of JOPA, Akira Saito, said, ”One of JOPA’s goals for 2017 is to restore soybean oil demands so that we are going to further consolidate our U.S. – Japan partnership. Let’s take a group photo to pledge such cooperation!!”
In 2015, Japan imported over 3.24 million metric tons (MT) of soybeans, of which U.S. enjoys a 72 percent market share. USSEC Japan will continue to work with the Japanese vegetable oil and soyfoods industries, both of which are essential ingredients for Japanese foods.
USSEC’s partnership activities with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) paid off this year when Korea’s largest trade organization of food-grade soybean end-users announced they would require the U.S. Soybean Sustainability Protocol (SSAP) certificate. In its March 2016 tender announcement for 7,651 metric tons (MT) of U.S. non-GMO identity preserved soybeans, the Korea Federation of Tofu Cooperatives (KFTC) added the certificates to the list of documents suppliers must provide.
Wisconsin-headquartered DeLong Company, as well as Knewtson Soy Products in Minnesota, both USSEC members, are two of the 45 companies spanning 17 states that are pre-registered to use SSAP certificates.
DeLong’s Brandon Bickham, a USSEC director, says, “We are using the SSAP in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam as a marketing tool from our side and at our customers’ request in some instances.”
“The large customers seem to want everything that is available to them for advertising and food safety image,” says Wayne Knewtson, president of Knewtson Soy Products.
Launched in 2013, the SSAP allows U.S. exporters to efficiently and cost-effectively communicate the sustainability of U.S. Soy to buyers worldwide. In January 2016, soy exports certified through the SSAP hit a record two million metric tons in the 2015/16 marketing year. The SSAP provides U.S. Soy exporters with proof of, among other sustainability-related criteria, reductions in energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil erosion of soybeans produced in the United States.
USSEC’s Market Access Program (MAP) – funded efforts include bringing a team of Korean soybean crushing and feed mill buyers to the United States to learn about the superior quality of U.S. soybeans as well as their sustainability. With USDA Foreign Market Development (FMD) funds, USSEC staff also conducts seminars and other trade servicing activities in North Asia and other locations where they highlight the sustainability of U.S. Soy.
USSEC traveled to northeastern China’s soy-growing province of Heilongjiang to hold workshops and exchange market information with local soy growers on December 13 and 14.
Three experts including Chen Beier, senior vice president of R. J. O’Brien’s Asia department; Hanver Li, chairman of Shanghai JC Intelligence; and Liu Zhaofu, founder and general manager of the soy portal website Dadou.cn, were invited by USSEC to speak to local soybean growers in the snow-covered Nenjiang county of Heilongjiang province.
The USSEC team was received by Li Tiehui, deputy chief of the agricultural authority of Nenjiang County, who escorted the team to a local cooperative farm on December 13 and an agricultural technology service center on the 14th.
In the workshops, Nenjiang soy growers shared with USSEC their concerns over market uncertainties, increased competition from domestic soy growers from other parts of the country, and soybean price drops. Some expressed pessimism over the short-term future. In response to their concerns, USSEC consultants not only delivered presentations to introduce some of the U.S. soybean industry’s experience and practice in dealing with the challenges and problems which are common to soy growers from all over the world, but also shared some practical industry-leading techniques in analyzing the soybean market and predicting future trends.
One soy grower shared his personal experience of rushing into the options market ten years ago without sufficient knowledge to guide his way, only to suffer a loss of five million renminbi (RMB) in a rash attempt. USSEC consultant Bell Chen, a seasoned options trading professional from the oldest and largest independent futures brokerage and clearing firm in the U.S., encouraged him to start from the basics and pay particular attention to the most up-to-date techniques necessary to calculate the odds and reduce risks.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Li said he would like to express gratitude on behalf of the Nenjiang government to USSEC for its continued contribution to the local economy through sharing some of the U.S. soybean industry’s best practices, and offering local soy growers ready-to-use practical knowledge in protecting themselves against market volatility.
It’s no secret that China’s domestic soybean production has been declining since 2004/05, due to a change in their corn price support policy. Since then, China’s soybean import volume has been increasing to meet the growing demand from the crushing industry to supply the needs for soybean meal and soy oil. But an exciting new export development is China’s growing need for specialty soybeans for use in making soy foods and beverages.
Unlike in the U.S., essentially all of China’s domestic soybean production are non-GMO beans and nearly all are used to make food and beverages. Last year, China grew approximately 10.51 million metric tons (MMT) of soybeans. They are projected to increase production 11 percent this year. An impressive increase, but it’s not going to be enough. This year, demand for non-GMO soybeans for food use in China could exceed their country’s domestic production by over 20%. Essentially, China is projected to consume specialty soybean tonnage roughly equal to Iowa’s total 2015 soybean production. Enter – an opportunity for U.S. specialty soybean exporters.
Last year, China had a shortage and imported specialty soybeans from Canada and Russia to fill their food ingredient market gap. And that didn’t go unnoticed. In response to U.S. exporter feedback, USSEC funded a 2017 China Food Bean Export Initiative project, which included holding a U.S. Specialty Soybean Market Outlook Conference in Hangzhou, a city in the province of Zhejiang in eastern China on November 21. During the conference, USSEC China presented the 2016 U.S. Soy food bean quality survey report, and updated conference attendees on the current situation of the U.S. and Chinese non-GMO soybean supply and demand, and shared insights on China’s soy food industry future trends.
USSEC exporter members SunOpta and Grain Millers sent their China representatives to attend and speak at the conference, introducing their companies’ specialty soybean portfolios and supply capabilities. Both organizations assured the attendees that U.S. exporters could meet the Chinese customers’ demand by producing suitable varieties of soybeans backed with reliable and consistent quality and timely delivery.
Over the previous several months, USSEC’s staff in China had also made one-on-one industry visits to assess the U.S. specialty soybean food market opportunity in eastern and northern China. Work to expand U.S. soybean sales to China will continue throughout this year by connecting U.S. specialty soybean exporters with the Chinese soy food and beverage industry.
USSEC China hosted its annual trade policy workshop in Beijing on December 15. Representatives from USSEC’s valued partners, customers and supporters were invited to attend the event.
More than 40 representatives from government agencies, industry associations, and member companies attended the trade policy workshop. Among them was Mr. Bian Zhenhu, president of China Chamber of Commerce of Native Foodstuffs and Produce; Mr. Bruce Zanin, minister counselor of Agricultural Affairs at U.S. Embassy in Beijing,; and Mr. Qie Jianwei, vice president of China National Association of Grain Sector. Most of the representatives have over the last few years not only met with U.S. soybean farmers who provide leadership to USSEC’s programs in China, but also worked closely with USSEC on many of these programs to help advance the interest of both US soybean farmers and Chinese buyers. They have offered USSEC unfailing support throughout the latter’s presence in the country, especially during times of uncertainty.
PowerPoint presentations were delivered by three guests speakers including Ms. Fang Yan, former official from China’s National Development and Research Commission; Mr. Chen Beier, senior vice president of R. J. O’Brien’s Asia department; and Mr. Hanver Li, Chairman of Shanghai JC Intelligence. Their topics ranged from the overall situation of the Chinese economy, and the national policy of the “supply-side reform”, to the “Belt and Road Initiative”, and China’s foreign reserves. Their presentations received positive responses from the audience who interacted with the speakers on many of the issues covered. Roseanne Freese, U.S. Agricultural Consul based in northeastern China’s Shenyang, said that she felt heartened by the fact that USSEC was able to invite so many industry experts and government officials to come to the workshop and be actively involved in the discussions.
To wrap up the workshop, Mr. Zhang Xiaoping, USSEC’s Country Director – China, said that USSEC and all its valued China partners would carry on moving forward with all of the work that they have been doing to serve the interest of China, the U.S. and the world.
It’s not a one-off. It’s a long-term mutually beneficial process. That’s what we call partnership.
– Zhang Xiaoping, USSEC Country Director – China
A New Year’s reception was hosted after the workshop, with 120 guests including the 40 workshop attendees and 80 representatives from customer companies invited in appreciation for their long-term support.
Whatever uncertainties we face now or in the future, the U.S. soybean farmers and the U.S. soybean industry will remain committed to our valued partners here in China.
-Paul Burke, USSEC Regional Director – North Asia
After the event, some guests congratulated USSEC on successfully hosting this annual activity, calling it “a great event.”
USSEC organized the 1st U.S. Soy Ambassador Award ceremony to present the inaugural U.S. Soy Ambassador Award in Japan. The U.S. Soy Ambassador recognizes a tofu producer who won the national tofu competition using 100 percent U.S. soybeans. The first recipient of this award in Japan was Shigeru Ueda, CEO of Satonoyuki Shokuhin.
Satonoyuki Shokuhin was founded by Mr. Ueda’s father in 1961 and now consists of six separate companies that focus on not only food production and distribution but also machine manufacturing and high-tech packing development.
Mr. Ueda traveled to Tokyo with his wife and met with U.S. Embassy officials, representing U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, to deliver samples of his award winning tofu, Kokutoro. After presenting his tofu and participating in a press conference for the Japan food trade media, Mr. Ueda was honored in an award reception and dinner hosted by USSEC. During the award ceremony, Mr. Ueda expressed his appreciation for the high quality soybeans he receives from the U.S. and how his close relationship with U.S. suppliers and growers assures a consistent supply of premium soybeans that are best suited for his company. Mr. Ueda also stated that USSEC has been leading the world in promoting sustainable soybeans, which he said is a remarkable step towards achieving sustainability in our society and environment. “With the shared vision for a sustainable world, we are ready to make every endeavor to support the expansion of U.S. soybeans,” he said.
At the end of the ceremony, participants tasted three tofu dishes made with the rich and creamy winning tofu, Kokutoro. The recipes developed by a restaurant chef include vegan tofu tartare, avocado and tofu moose cocktail, and tofu pudding Hong Kong style.
Japan, the largest consumer of tofu products made with U.S. Soy, used nearly 477,000 metric tons (MT) of non-GMO identity preserved (IP) soybeans in 2015. USSEC Japan will continue to support Japan’s tofu industry in coordinated with the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Tokyo and Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) by establishing a U.S. Soy Sustainability Ambassador Award in the 3rd National Tofu Competition, which will be held at the Tofu Summit in Tokyo in December 2017. The award ceremony will be combined with the U.S. Soy Sustainability Ambassador Award winner in the 22nd National Natto Competition.
USSEC China co-organized the 2016 U.S. Swine Industry Development Symposium in Beijing with U.S. Grains Council (USGC), U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce (CFNA), China Animal Agricultural Association (CAAA), and the China Meat Association (CMA) on November 18. 160 entrepreneurs, general managers, government specialists, and technical directors from swine farms, feed mills, government offices, and national research agencies attended the event. The topics included improving environmental stewardship at large swine operations; changing regional distribution in the swine industry; improving linkages between producers and processors; and the role of global markets in meat and feed industries.
Bob Metz, United Soybean Board (USB) director, spoke on behalf of the U.S. soybean industry at the opening and closing ceremonies. He introduced USSEC’s activities in China and the advantages of U.S. soybean products.
“We [U.S. and China] are the greatest counties in the world and we face the same issues on the environment,” said Mr. Metz. “We should concentrate on what we do well and continue the cooperation.”
Xiaoping Zhang, USSEC Country Director – China, was one of four moderators of the symposium and hosted a session on improving linkages between producers and processors. Symposium guests told USSEC that the event allowed them to reflect on what has been achieved and to explore future opportunities that lie ahead of the industry, saying that if they don’t increase investment in improving the environment, they may go out of business in the next five years.
Mr. Metz also visited USSEC’s top-ten buyer Shangdong Bohi Industry Co., Ltd., preferred customers Shanghai Bright Liangyou group, and Shanghai Yuanyao Investment Co., Ltd. before the swine summit. He was escorted by USSEC Animal Utilization (AU) Technical Director Richard Han, USSEC Marketing Manager Claudia Chong and USSEC AU consultant Sam Shi and was informed of China’s market information and customers’ requirement and needs.
U.S. grower leaders including American Soybean Association (ASA) director Monte Peterson and United Soybean Board (USB) director Walter Godwin traveled to Shanghai in eastern China to visit local customers and speak at the 2016 U.S. Soy Buyers Market Outlook Conference Nov. 12 – 15.
On November 14, more than 110 participants attended the 2016 US Soy Buyers Market Outlook Conference, representing Chinese industry leaders from key importers, crushers and feed integrators. The conference was aimed at promoting U.S. soybeans by providing the latest information on U.S. soy crop size, quality, and U.S. farmers’ perspectives on the global supply and demand situation, and to share their sustainable production practices with Chinese customers to enable them to make earlier and better decisions on purchasing new crop from the U.S.
Perry Ostmo, North Dakota soybean grower, and Seth Naeve, USSEC consultant and professor at the University of Minnesota, also spoke during the conference. Grower leaders and speakers answered questions and made comments during the Q&A session.
Toward the end of the main session, USSEC Country Director – China Zhang Xiaoping presented an overview of U.S. Soy exports to China in the 2015/16 marketing year. Based on the information, USSEC identified China’s top ten largest and most loyal buyers of U.S. soybeans. The grower leaders awarded the winners prizes which symbolized their commitment to the “tailored market and technical services” from the U.S. Soy industry.
On the same afternoon, a closed-door panel discussion was arranged for the top ten largest and most loyal buyers, in collaboration with USSEC member companies, to promote trade relations between U.S. Soy exporters and importers. These top buyers represent approximately 80 percent of the total volume of China’s imported soy from the U.S., and strengthened business relations with them will help maintain and expand demand. About 40 attendees joined the panel discussion, including Yihai Kerry, Jiusan, Bohi, COFCO, Xiangchi, Sanwei, Sunrise, Hope Full, China Sea, Bunge China, Cargill China, and USSEC member companies including ADM, Bunge, Cargill, CHS, CME, Lansing and Scoular.
During the panel discussion, USSEC member exporters and buyers had open exchanges on their concerns and perspectives of the soy market, covering topics including the U.S. Soy advantage in amino acid profile, sustainability, quality concerns on the current U.S. crop in terms of protein, oil, biotech approval delays, and its potential threat to soybean trade.
2016 marks the eighteenth anniversary of this event hosted by the U.S. Soy in China. The event has been regarded as a branding program of U.S. Soy, and Chinese customers highly value this opportunity to network and interact with U.S. grower leaders and market specialists to acquire information on the U.S. Soy crop quality, market situation, and price trends. Some buyers inquired about this event six months in advance, and all the top buyers have shown a high level of sensitivity to their yearly ranking. According to the post-conference evaluation, 100 percent of the participants agree that the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP) will meet the needs of their company or partners in achieving future sustainability goals.
On November 13, the grower leaders and the USSEC consultant paid a visit to a key feed and integrator located near Shanghai city, which produces 200,000 metric tons of feed and 400,000 heads of hogs a year, and they target to produce one million heads of hogs by the year 2019.
Leaders from the U.S. Soy industry travelled to China to attend the 4th China Food Security & Food Safety Strategy (FSFSS) Summit and exchange views with the country’s policy advisors in Beijing on November 12 and 13.
The FSFSS Summit, organized by China’s top policy advisory body Development Research Center of the State Council, was held at the Diaoyutai National Guesthouse, a garden-style complex where Chinese leaders meet and house foreign heads of state.
The U.S. delegation, including USSEC Chairman and American Soybean Association (ASA) Director Jim Miller, ASA President Richard Wilkins, United Soybean Board (USB) Director Bill Beam, and USSEC CEO Jim Sutter, expressed concerns during the summit over the delays in China’s approval procedures for biotech soybean events. Mr. Miller, in his presentation on “Science-Based Food Safety Regulatory System,” made the case that the GMO food issue should not be muddled up with the food safety issue, as the seeds have been tested for safety and approved well ahead of being processed into food. Mr. Wilkins warned Chinese policy advisors that biotech approval delays would not only hurt growers and seed developers, but the environment and consumers as well. Mr. Beam argued that advanced technology, including biotechnology, enhances sustainability, and helps with global food security and food safety.
The U.S. Soy grower leaders also held a sideline meeting with Mr. Han Jun, Vice Minister of China’s Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group (CRWLG) to communicate the U.S. Soy industry’s efforts in consumer education on biotech, express the industry’s concerns over approval delays, and elaborate on the possible negative impact on China’s food security and food safety.
Mr. Wilkins also had an informal discussion during the summit with Chen Xiwen, CRWSLG’s former Deputy Director. Mr. Chen, currently serving as President of Tsinghua University’s China Institute for Rural Studies, shared his views on the country’s ongoing structural reform of agricultural supply and expounded the multiple causes behind the fluctuations in China’s domestic agricultural prices in recent years.
The U.S. delegation also networked with industry leaders in animal feed and biotechnology. They showed particular interest in China’s use of agricultural drones and talked with Justin Gong, co-founder and CMO of south China’s agricultural drone manufacturer XAIRCRAFT, on business opportunities opened up by this technology, which is relatively new to China.
Also speaking at the summit were Iowa Governor Terry Branstad; Luke Hartsuyker, Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia; and Martyn Dunne, Director General of the Ministry for Primary Industries of New Zealand, among others.
USSEC participated in the third annual U.S. – China agriculture and food seminar, held during the 27th session of the China-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT). This year’s theme was “Advancing Mutual Goals in Food Safety,” taking place on November 22 in Washington, D.C.
USSEC Chairman Jim Miller and USSEC CEO Jim Sutter represented USSEC, and Mr. Miller provided closing remarks.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, Ambassador Darci Vetter, and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang also spoke at the seminar.
Moderated panel sessions addressed key issues identified at the 2015 JCCT, featuring U.S. and Chinese company perspectives and those of the U.S. and Chinese governments. These discussions included strengthening consumer protection and enhancing public confidence in the supply chain; transparency and implementation of food safety regulations; and international best practices on preventing and responding to food safety incidents.
“The growth of food and agriculture trade between our nations is impressive,” said Mr. Froman. “From 2000 to 2015, U.S. agriculture exports to China increased eleven-fold, and China’s agriculture exports to the United States grew seven-fold,” he continued, adding “China has been one of our top export markets for our food and agriculture exports for some time.”
“The United States remains committed to partnering with China to achieve our mutual goals of protecting human health and food safety while facilitating and expanding trade,” stated Secretary Vilsack.
Mr. Miller spoke about the role of the Agriculture – Food Partnership (AFP), which was created in 2014, and what the group is accomplishing within China to address food safety and security.
He discussed AFP’s role as a private-public coordinator in today’s political and business environment, saying that it “provides a unique platform to foster trust and partnership between Chinese and U.S. food and agriculture interests in both the public and private sectors; bring together the widest range of Chinese and U.S. organizations . . .to identify areas of common interest, opportunity, and collaboration in food security and food safety; and facilitate cooperation across the entire value chain of the agriculture and food industry in China.”
Additionally, Mr. Miller talked about AFP’s 2016 initiatives and outcomes and the organization’s future hopes.
China is set to build a model of a U.S. farm in Hebei Province starting next year.
The farm will be fashioned after Rick and Martha Kimberley’s farm in Maxwell, Iowa, which was visited by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2012. Then China’s vice president, he met with friends he made in Iowa in 1985 while he was a Hebei Province party official and director of the Feed Association of Shijiazhuang Prefecture.
A memorandum describing the farm was signed during Iowa governor Terry Branstad’s mission to China. Governor Branstad’s eight-day trip to China and Japan will wrap up on December 2 and is focused on increasing agricultural exports to the two countries. The group also included representatives of Iowa’s Sister States program, which has longstanding ties to Hebei Province.
The Kimberley family operates a typical Midwestern farm with a house, grain bins, and machine sheds, said Grant Kimberley, the couple’s son, who is director of market development for the Iowa Soybean Association and also executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board.
“When the Chinese president came to visit, he said that using technology – everything from grid sampling your soils to using GPS, and biotechnology seeds – will be important for China’s future. He wants to help Chinese farms modernize, in their own way, by using our farm as an example,” Mr. Kimberley explained.
Initial discussions with Chinese officials have included the concept of making the demonstration farm in Hebei Province virtually identical to the Kimberley farmstead, but many details still need to be worked out.
Hebei Province is located in northern China, and the Great Wall of China passes through it.
The Kimberley farm in Iowa is about 4,000 acres, included rented land. The working demonstration farm in China will be smaller, about 300 to 500 acres, and may also have some hogs, cattle, and chickens, along with corn, soybeans, wheat and oil seed crops, and garden vegetables.
Grant Kimberley, a sixth-generation family farmer, helps his parents operate their Iowa farm, and is a member of the Iowa Sister States Board. He has visited China about 10 times to advocate trade between the U.S. and China. Soybeans are China’s top import crop and the country imports about a third of the world’s soybeans.
China faces a challenge feeding its people because although it boasts 21 percent of the world’s population, it only contains 9 percent of the world’s farmland, according to the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China. Currently, China says it ranks first in the world in production of cereals, cotton, fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, eggs and fishery products. The ministry says the country has dramatically reduced its population of rural poor since 1978 by reforming policies and opening its agriculture to the outside world, including agricultural exchanges and cooperation with more than 140 countries.
USSEC hosted the annual U.S. Soy Advantage Buyers Outlook Conference in Seoul, South Korea on November 11. 62 members of the purchasing and technical staffs from Korea’s crushing, feed, and soyfood industries attended the conference. Two USSEC member exporters, SunOpta and Scoular, and nine Korean representatives of U.S. Soy exporters, including ADM and DeLong, were also in attendance.
The conference’s objective was to update the target industries with the U.S. new crop quality and supply situation, and to help Korean customers and U.S. Soy delegates understand each side’s needs better. During the conference, SunOpta and Scoular interacted with food-soybean customers and shared new crop information with them, displaying samples.
United Soybean Board (USB) director Walter Godwin, USSEC and American Soybean Association (ASA) director Monte Peterson, and North Dakota Soybean Council director Perry Ostmo traveled to Korea and participated in the conference. They presented information about this year’s record crop yield, 2016 soybean production and farmers’ risk management. Other conference topics included 2016/17 crop quality, the application of the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP), global supply and demand, and market outlook. Attendees gave feedback that two major reasons that they think U.S. Soy is more valuable than that of other origins are the reliability and sustainability of U.S. Soy.
In addition to the conference, the grower leaders visited a tofu plant and feed mill and met with top executives of Sajo Haepyo Corp. to share information on this year’s crop and receive an update on Korea’s crushing market.
USSEC recently participated in the 2nd Tofu Competition and the 6th Japan Tofu Shop Summit in Kumamoto City, Kumamto Prefecture, Japan. A record 270 participants, including tofu companies, soy wholesalers, and government leaders from throughout Japan attended the event. The event was organized by Zentoren and the General Incorporated Foundation National Federation of Tofu, and was sponsored by USSEC; the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; and Zen-noh. National and local TV stations, including NHK, also participated.
USSEC Country Director – Japan Mitsuyuki Nishimura and Human Utilization Director Masi Tateishi represented USSEC.
This event offered younger leaders in Japan’s tofu industry the opportunity to interact with each other and learn about products and marketing to educate the next generation of leaders to be successful and sustainable. In 1960, the number of tofu shops in Japan was 51,596, but was down to 8,017 in 2014. This reduction demonstrates that tofu is the most fragmented and artisanal business with the highest numbers of players in the Japanese food industry. Thus, product innovation and sustainability is the key for survival in next generation. The discussion for the 2016 Tofu Summit also included upcoming new fair competition rules, a case study of image branding, and “Tofu Meister” progress.
Mr. Nishimura gave a guest speech followed by special guest Yoshimasa Hayashi, the former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, emphasizing the U.S. Soy advantage with impending record high production. Ms. Tateishi participated as a judge at the tofu competition and tasted 107 different tofus. The total numbers of entries this year was 668, 5 times larger than last year, when preliminary contests conducted in 7 regions across Japan throughout the year had selected the 107 finalists.
The top three prizes were given. First place was presented to the Japan Nutrition School Lunch Association, Tochigi Prefecture; second place went to Tofu Kobo Ajika, Gunma Prefecture; and Tominari Goro Shoten, Nagano Prefecture was awarded third place.
Zentoren announced that the 7th Tofu Summit to be held in Tokyo in December 2017.
USSEC, in coordination with Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Tokyo and Agricultural Trade Office (ATO), recognized the best tofu using 100 percent imported U.S. Soy, beginning in 2016. The inaugural award was given to Satonoyuki Shokuhin/ Shikoku Kakoki of Tokushima Prefecture.
“I am very honored to be selected [to receive] the first commemorative U.S. Soy Ambassador Award,” stated Makoto Murao, executive director of Satonoyuki. “Our company has been using U.S. Soy for many years and thus we have been closely communicating with U.S. Soy farmers in various regions of the U.S. . .we learned U.S. Soy growers produce safe and reliable, high protein, high yield and highly suitable soy for tofu making.”
“I view [the U.S. Soy Ambassador Award] as giving us precious opportunities to convey those excellent messages about U.S. Soy farmers to our Japanese consumers as well,” he continued. “Currently, our company contracts with excellent soybean farmers in Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota and Ohio. Recent U.S. soybean quality has improved greatly and because of it, we are able to manufacturer higher quality tofu. We believe long-term communication with those U.S. soybean farmers and our mutual understanding led to winning this award, and we are very appreciative. We look forward to sharing this happiness with those U.S. farmers.”
USSEC is currently preparing an event for the winners in coordination with FAS and ATO Tokyo. Japan, a large consumer of tofu products, used nearly 477,000 metric tons (MT) of non-GMO identity preserved (IP) soybeans in 2015. Over 42 percent of the soybeans used for tofu are from the U.S. whose market share increased 7 percent from 2012 to 2017. USSEC Japan will continue to work with and support Japan’s tofu industry by establishing a U.S. Soy Ambassador Sustainability Award in the near future to optimize the use and value of sustainable U.S. Soy.
To watch a video of this event, please click here.
USSEC China organized the 2016 Feed Processing Training Course to Kansas State University From September 18 – 25. Course topics included using soybean products efficiently, feed processing, and feed mill management, among others. The team also visited a dairy farm, Countryside Feed LLC, and the Kansas Soybean Association.
15 team members from China livestock integrators, top ten feed mills, and a feed additive company attended this activity. Participants not only learned advanced feed processing technology, but also viewed the processing of U.S. soybeans and soybean products. The delegation witnessed the sustainability of U.S. soybean production, quality and reliable supply firsthand.
Representatives from the Global Soy in Aquaculture Program attended Global Aquaculture Alliance’s GOAL 2016 conference in Guangzhou, China, September 20 – 22.
USSEC Marketing Director – Aquaculture Colby Sutter and USSEC China Aquaculture Program Manager Jim Zhang and USSEC China Freshwater Aquaculture Technical Manager Zhou Enhua were joined by United Soybean Board (USB) director Dan Farney and American Soybean Association (ASA) director Dan Roe to participate in the program focused on “Healthy Fish, Healthy People and Healthy Planet.”
Mr. Zhang’s presentation on “Trends in Intensive Pond Aquaculture,” detailing the many benefits of the Intensive Pond Aquaculture (IPA) technology introduced to China by USSEC’s aquaculture program, received immediate interest in the technology from Chinese producers as well as the many other international representatives attending the conference.