News: Soy Foods
The 12th Southeast Asia Soy Sympoisum (SFS), organized by USSEC Southeast Asia (SEA), was held on March 23 and 24 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The 12th Symposium was attended by 115 participants from SEA, the U.S., and Japan, comprising key soy food and beverage industry personnel, soybean traders, and related stakeholders. The one-day symposium was preceded by a half-day invitation-only workshop on Enhancing Soy Products Innovations to Meet Health and Market Trends, for a select group of soy food and beverage producers from the region.
As with previous series of this annual 1.5 day regional soy food event, the back-to-back strategic arrangement with the SEA Grains Transportation Conference (GTC), enabled the cross participation of attendees, and the benefits of the high level presence of U.S. Soy grower leaders as well as the support of several qualified state soybean boards (QSSBs) and food grade soybean suppliers, who took the opportunity to meet and network with regional customers and producers, and to establish trade deals as well as gain updates on the markets development in the region.
Collectively accounting for 25 percent of the world’s total soyfood consumption, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the group of 10 SEA countries) is also one of the largest importer of U.S. soybeans for food uses, with an estimated 2.5 million metric tons (MMT) out of the 3.6 MMT per year imported into the region designated for soy food and beverage utilization. Of this amount, Indonesia alone accounted for close to 2 MMT of the regional import, almost all targeted for the domestic production and consumption of tempe and tofu.
Additionally, SEA is a developing market for U.S. food grade identity preserved (IP) soybeans, with about 40,000 – 50,000 MT being imported annually in recent years, to meet the growing demand of quality soyfood for the modern trade food and beverage industry. The joint GTC and SFS events were important platform for U.S. suppliers to build business networks and negotiate trade deals, as gleaned from the pooled survey on transaction negotiated reported in the GTC story.
Gerald Smith, Senior Agriculture Attache at the U.S. Consulate General, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, delivered the opening speech and welcomed the delegates to the 2017 Soy Symposium with the theme of “Soy Insight – Sustainability, Nutrition and Innovation.” The symposium aimed to provide the status and latest updates on U.S. food use and specialty soybeans suppliers, sustainable farm practices and technological solutions, in addition to information on soy health benefits, products trends and innovations that spur soybean consumption and market growth in this important regional market for U.S. Soy.
The first session on “U.S. Soy Supply – Ensuring Quality and Sustainability Through the Value Chain” was co-chaired by Mike Appert, vice chairman of the North Dakota Soybean Council and Timothy Loh, USSEC Regional Director – SEA. The three speakers from the U.S. included Will McNair, USSEC Stakeholder Relations Manager, who presented on the outlook of U.S. food soybean supplies and shared how through the dependable production of U.S. food soybean and the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP), importers of U.S. soybeans and foods are able to create more value for themselves by continuing to differentiate from their competitors. USSEC director Aaron Skyberg of SK Food International and member of the Northern Food Grade Soybean Association (NFGSA), shared the quality traits and Identify Preserved (IP) soybean supply system that catered to the needs and target soybean characteristics sought by soy food and beverage producers through a stringent on farm practices, supply and transportation through the container trade that ensure the identity and quality preservation in delivery to the customers through the containers trade, as reinforced in the presentation by Lucas Blaustein of Consolidated Grains and Barge.
Dr. Anne Bridges of the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) International and Professor Paul Teng of the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, during their presentations at the second session of the symposium, emphasized that a sustainable food supply is critical to feed the growing global population and at the same time respond to demands for healthy and nutritious food. Plant breeders work with multiple technologies to provide new advanced crop options for increased yields, excellent environmental management, adaptations to climate change, as well as improved use of insecticides and herbicides and attention to quality attributes. Knowledge and adoption of these technologies, once approved, would help ensure a sufficient, safe, and sustainable agricultural global supply chain.
The session ended with an update on the status of food use soybean markets in SEA, presented by USSEC Human Utilization Manager, Dr. Dady Maskar from Indonesia, on behalf of Boon Yee Yeong, Senior Technical Consultant, Human Utilization, USSEC SEA. The presentation shared data from the region, which points to continuing growth in demand for soy for food uses. U.S. Soy has been recognized to play an important role and contribution to the nutritional well being of large population sectors who consume soyfood and beverage on daily basis. With soybean production of less than a million metric tons in key SEA countries, sustainable food security in the near future in ASEAN will continue to depend on managing the balance in food supply between self-production and imports from outside the region.
The third and fourth sessions of the symposium comprised the remaining 8 of the total 14 papers in this symposium. The sessions’ topics ranged from current soyfood trends, scientific updates and consumer perceptions on soy, and how these factors confluence to influence purchase. Presenters shared experience on how the soy industry responds to their specific market requirements through innovative approaches and product innovation. Examples from two successful market leaders in Singapore and Vietnam, as well as a sharing of market status and development in two countries outside of SEA, Japan and India namely, were among the very interesting and valuable stories of experience sharing.
The focus program with the diverse topics that covered the pertinent interests of the target audience earned a high appreciation and positive evaluation from the survey conducted among the attendees. Of the 71 returned survey questionnairs, more than 90 percent rated the program to be of high value and relevant to their work, and 85 percent were in positive agreement to the overall statements on both the instrinsic characteristics and extrinsic characteristics of U.S. Soy and soy protein. For those producers or traders not currently purchasing U.S. Soy, the knowledge gap on the U.S. Soy Advantage was shown to be narrowed after the participants attended the Symposium. 24 of the regional respondents in the trade indicated they are currently buyers or users of U.S. Soy with another 10 indicating that they plan to purchase U.S. Soy within the next 6 months.
Besides the full day symposium held on March 24, several of the U.S. Soy grower leaders and food soybean suppliers were invited to visit the newly opened state-of-the art soymilk plant of Vinasoy near Ho Chi Minh City. Vinasoy is the largest soymilk producer in Vietnam. While local soybeans have been their main source of supply, they have started exploring importing food soybeans from the U.S. and Canada.
The half day workshop, “Enhancing Soy Products Innovation to Meet Current Nutrition and Market Trends,” was held on the afternoon of March 23 for a select group of soy food and beverage producers, facilitated by experts in the field of nutrition, product development, and marketing. At the end of the workshop, three innovative product concepts were developed and proposed by the participants which showcased the versatility of soy in meeting target health requirements and consumer interest in innovative soy products.
Leading up to and during the Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Colombia, USSEC – Americas has worked on a number of projects promoting the usage of U.S. soybean oil to importers, refiners, end users and consumers.
With the new long-range strategic plan (LRSP), the direction has changed to build more demand and value in the marketplace. Buyers at oil refineries have shown increased interest in USSEC’s new projects, and 100 percent of all soybean oil refining companies have committed to the 1st U.S. Soybean Oil Risk Management conference.
In this fiscal year, U.S. soybean oil exports to Colombia have grown from 25,400 metric tons (MT) to 54,600 MT, or approximately 115 percent above last year at this time. Colombia is now the third highest importer of U.S. soybean oil in the world and U.S. imports are expected to increase.
USSEC discussed the health benefits of soybean oil, as proven in a clinical study, with an important oil refinery in Mexico. The refinery is looking to review their marketing strategy as a result of this study.
In September 2016, USSEC completed a clinical research study in the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition “Salvador Zubirán,” a highly recognized institution in Mexico. A group of PhD scholars with experience in nutrition conducted the study. The objective of the study was to analyze the effects of soybean oil versus other oils on levels of LDL cholesterol, lipoprotein profile, and other health parameters, in patients with hypercholesterolemia. The study was carried out following the scientific protocol recommended for this kind of research. It confirmed the health properties of U.S. soybean oil due to its unique composition of Omega 3, Omega 6, and Omega 9 fatty acids and its high content of Vitamin E. The results of the study are being communicated to oil refineries so that they can use this information in their marketing materials for the Americas and other regions.
Main result of the clinical study: Soybean oil consumption decreased the total cholesterol in men by 11.5 percent and by 27.3 percent in women. The consumption of soybean oil also significantly decreased serum glucose by 18.5 percent in women.
The consumption of olive oil decreased LDL cholesterol levels by 13.9 percent in women. The consumption of canola significantly decreased serum triglycerides by 28.9 percent.
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 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.
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 and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) are helping U.S. agriculture to be the store where international customers want to shop. U.S. high-value food grade soybean marketers liken international buyers to U.S. customers who go to a store because it offers a preferred or unique product. If the customer learns to love that store, then they will become loyal and shop for even more products.
With USDA and USSEC assistance, companies such as SK Food International and Natural Products Inc., both USSEC members, are doing their part to cultivate this preference for U.S. specialty soybeans. U.S. Soy competitors also pursue the Asia and Pacific region’s soy food market that according to Technavio’s Global Soy Food Market 2016-2020 analysis was valued at $17 billion in 2015. Technavio projects the Asia and Pacific regional market will reach $24 billion by 2020, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7 percent. The need for soy protein ingredients to fuel that region’s soy foods sector will grow at an even faster pace — reaching an estimated 10 percent CAGR.
To capture this business, USSEC works with Foreign Market Development (FMD) -supported trade services to constantly monitor the markets and policies.
“USSEC is doing a good job of helping us make the necessary changes to meet the customer,” says Natural Products General Manager Paul Lang. “The way grain moves into Korea is a government-controlled process. If someone wants to do business in Korea, then they have to stay in tune with their government. FAS and USSEC are on the ground. We expect them to know the current situation of the law, the standards and what changes.”
USDA FMD-funded activities allowed SK and other U.S. specialty soybean exporters to meet overseas food manufacturers.
“The biggest benefit from our USSEC relationship is creating new leads and the connection to new buyers,” says SK Marketing Coordinator Tara Froemming.
“It is good to have the USSEC support of these missions,” she concludes.
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.