News: South Asia
USSEC India recently participated in a Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) / U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cooperators meeting led by the Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse, and Scott Sindelar, Minister-Councilor FAS in New Delhi.
Representing USSEC, Dr. Ratan Sharma, USSEC Director – Soy Food Program, India, discussed the current soybean situation in India, the drastic decline in soybean meal export from India, and the increasing domestic consumption of soy food and feed uses. He reported on the first-ever open discussion in a half-day session organized by the Soy Oil Processors Association of India (SOPA) that discussed the possibilities of adopting GM practices for soybeans in India, during SOPA’s oilseed convention in Nagpur in the last week of September.
Other discussions during the meeting included USSEC’s efforts to enhance soybean and soymeal imports from the U.S. to the ASC region with an increased U.S. share; U.S. beans being crushed for oil and meals in the region for local consumption; and U.S. food bean and soy oil opportunities in India.
USSEC, in collaboration with the Association of Food Scientists and Technologist (India), Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association, Soy Processors Association and Solvent Extractors’ Association of India recently organized a one-day conference, “Soy Nutrition and Soy Opportunities: Creating Linkages” in Mumbai, India.
With nearly one-third of the Indian population suffering from malnutrition and a similarly equal number of people suffering from diet-related degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes which are on the top of the causes of deaths in most parts of India, especially among the urban population. It is estimated that more than 63 million Indians are suffering from diabetes and 45 million with CVD.
Cardiovascular diseases are major causes of mortality and disease in the Indian subcontinent, causing more than 25 per cent of deaths. It has been predicted that these diseases will increase rapidly and India will be the host for more than half the cases of heart disease in the world within the next 15 years. Moreover, India is home to the largest population of severely malnourished children in the world, and child malnutrition is a risk factor for 22.4 percent of total burden of disease. Malnutrition is more common in India than in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite significant efforts, the reduction in the prevalence of malnutrition in India over the last decade has been small.
Soy is a highly nutritious food. Soybean is one of the very few plants that provide a high quality protein with minimum saturated fat. Soybeans contain all 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. Ratan Sharma, USSEC Director – India & ASC Soy Food Program
Dr. Sharma discussed various soy products including soymilk, tofu, soy nuggets, soy fortified wheat flour and gram flour, and soy-based dal analogue, suggesting that these products have been made by using high end processing technology and are tasty and safe for consumption. He further emphasized that soy could be a wonderful solution to reduce the protein calorie malnutrition in India, and the Indian government should include soy as a main nutritional ingredient for various supplementary nutrition and welfare programs to ensure a healthy young generation.
Dr. Sharma pointed out that soy fortified wheat flour can be widely used in the Public Distribution System, saying that India imports more than five million metric tons (MMT) of the dal (lentils) from other countries. He suggested that the government promote the soy-based dal analogue, which is an extruded product by using wheat, soy and corn. This dal analogue is similar to India’s regular dals in cooking characteristics and taste, but is much cheaper than regular dal and superior in nutrition. This can reduce the import burden to the government up to a great extent.
USSEC India recently organized a training program, which dealt with economical approaches to chicken production and creating trade linkages to South India’s broiler sector, in Ooty, Tamil Nadu Province. USSEC partnered with a leading soybean meal trader, Sri Amman Enterprises, to help achieve its objectives.
USSEC consultants Dr. Yadunandan and Dr. Pawan Kumar coordinated the sessions to bring together poultry integrators, feed millers, and the soy distribution system. About 110 midsized and small broiler integrators and feed millers participated in this training program. Together, this group represented 460,000 metric tons (MT) of soy use per year. Sri Amman Enterprises handles sales of 130,000 MT of soy annually and Sai Smaran Foods Pvt Ltd crushes 200,000 MT of soybeans per month. The audience at this event involved the entire value chain of soy, comprised of crushing, distribution, and soy utilization.
Dr. Yadunandan introduced USSEC and its activities and gave a presentation on the supply and demand of soybean meal in India and the Asia Subcontinent (ASC). India produced a good soybean crop in 2016 after three back-to-back years of poor production, but India’s supply is not enough to cater to the needs of the entire ASC region. Discussions stressed the need to proactively address raw material security for a growing poultry industry. Dr. Kumar expressed that chicken, eggs, and soy flour are the three cheapest sources of protein for Indians and stressed higher dependence and consumption of the same. On the technical front, the two consultants explained soybean meal inclusion levels in formulations and the bearing they have on the economical production of poultry meat and eggs. Other topics addressed included making appropriate buying decisions of soybean meal and interpreting analytical data.
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.