News: Soy Foods
USSEC hosted the 2016 U.S. Food-Bean Buyers Conference and Tabletop Trade Show on April 7 in Seoul, South Korea. The objective of the conference was to support U.S. food-bean exporters and Korean food-bean end-users / importers to take full advantage of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. The conference was attended by 38 purchasing staff and 3 top executives from Korea’s soyfood processing industry; 10 USSEC member companies (Bluegrass Farms of Ohio, Inc.; CHS, Inc.; Clarkson Grain Co., Inc.; The DeLong Co., Ltd.; Global Processing Inc.; Natural Products, Inc.; SB&B Foods, Inc.; Soyko International, Inc.; and SunOpta, Inc.); United Soybean Board (USB) director Mark Caspers; USSEC Regional Director – North Asia Paul Burke; and USSEC Marketing Director – Human Nutrition/Oil Marypat Corbett.
Mr. Caspers gave a presentation, “U.S. Soy Supply – Assuring Sustainability and Quality IP Food Beans” at the conference. Other conference topics included the U.S. inland grain logistics; U.S. food grade soybean acreage insights; sustainable U.S. Soy; and Korea’s Special Act on Imported Food Safety. At the tabletop trade show, U.S. food-bean exporters displayed their food-bean samples on the tables and had individual meetings with Korean food-bean importers. Following the conference, 15 U.S. participants visited tofu plants at Dongwha Food Co., Ltd. and Busan port, which is the destination port for non-GM food-soybean import via container.
Over the past 40 years, an estimated 20 million American infants have been fed soy formula. According to a 2008 clinical report published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), soy protein-based formulas may account for nearly 25 percent of the U.S. formula market. The AAP recognizes that isolated soy protein-based formulas provide nutrition for normal growth and development in term infants. USSEC shares soy-related research as part of its public education initiative. In addition, USSEC highlights the work of experts conducting studies on the health effects of consuming soy, including soy infant formula.
Currently, the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center is tracking children from birth in order to determine how infant diets affect future development and health. Thomas M. Badger, PhD, lead researcher for the Beginnings Study at the Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center (established as a partnership between Arkansas Children’s Hospital and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service), has been investigating the long-term health consequences of diet and nutrition early in life. The research study enrolled 600 children—200 in each of three feeding groups, including breast-fed, milk formula-fed and soy formula-fed. Children in the study now range from ages three years old to nine years old; the project is funded to study these children through puberty. Dr. Badger further describes the Beginnings Study as part of a larger initiative of trying to understand the role of dietary phytochemicals in child development, health and disease prevention.
“We had conducted many animal studies on soy protein and isoflavones, and all the results pointed to benefits to growth, development, body composition and disease (cancer prevention). Unlike those of other groups, our results did not point to isoflavones acting as pure estrogens,” Dr. Badger states. Among the many questions addressed by the study was whether isoflavones were estrogenic in children, and if so, under what circumstances.
Because soy formula contains isoflavones that are classified as phytoestrogens, a common misconception is that soy formula can cause estrogenic effects in infants. Dr. Badger explains, “The major point that all detractors of soy formula are pushing is ‘estrogenicity.’ I am not worried about it, because we are convinced by all of our studies so far that soy formula does not produce estrogenicity or any other potentially adverse estrogen effect.” While the Beginnings Study is not complete, he adds that based on several pieces of evidence, the research team does not expect to find any adverse effects due to the isoflavones of soy formula that might appear later, such as during the teenage years.
“Estrogens act in one way, and only one way. They bind and activate proteins known as estrogen receptors that turn on and turn off specific genes, and result in unique profiles of nuclear and cytosolic proteins that are required for the well-characterized set of estrogen effects (or estrogenicity),” Dr. Badger says. Although isoflavones have been reported to bind to estrogen receptors, they do not activate them the way estrogens do, and the gene and protein expression profiles do not lead to estrogenicity.
Dr. Badger bases his conclusions on several factors. First, purified isoflavones behave differently than foods containing isoflavones. “When one looks at the literature about estrogenic effects, most studies have been conducted with purified isoflavones, which human infants and children are never exposed to,” he says. “Another factor relates to the molecular actions of isoflavones versus estrogens. Our data clearly shows that isoflavones act as selective estrogen modulators, not estrogens. The direction of isoflavone action is toward blocking the adverse actions of estrogens, not in promoting estrogenic actions.”
Finally, he says, the gene and protein expression profiles of estrogens and soy protein (or soy isoflavones) are completely different. “This is the ultimate proof that soy phytochemicals fed to infants in soy formula are not capable of producing estrogenic effects, because they do not activate the metabolic signaling pathways needed to be estrogenic.”
USSEC organized conferences for North Dakota food bean suppliers in Punjab and Bhopal in the Madhya Pradesh states of India as part of North Dakota’s mission to establish trade relations and opportunities for North Dakota companies with the world’s second most populous country.
These conferences focused exclusively on U.S. food specialty soybeans. More than 60 soy food companies attended interactive sessions at both locations.
The North Dakota team explained the quality and pricing attributes of U.S. food beans and educated the Indian companies on the U.S. trade, CBOT, contracts, price locking and other trade practices. Participating North Dakota companies including SB&B Foods, SunOpta, and SK Food International, gave presentations about their respective companies and products.
USSEC Director – India Food Program Dr. Ratan Sharma talked about the quality difference between Indian and U.S. Soy as well as the U.S. Soy Sustainability Protocol (SSAP), sustainable supply, and consistent quality, along with facilitating the meetings. Companies shared information about their customers and discussed about how they build up relationships and trust.
India does not grow food specialty beans, and there is a scarcity of beans at times. Quality, consistency and sustainable supply are always a problem. This was an eye opening experience for the Indian soy food companies and they showed a great interest in U.S. food beans.
USSEC India has already conducted U.S. soybean trials in India for making various products and demonstrated the superiority of U.S. beans to the Indian end users. There is a huge potential for U.S. food beans in India, and traders are already in the process of obtaining the necessary certifications for importing U.S. non-GM food beans in India.
A recent USSEC study estimated that 3.5 million non-GMO soy food bean acres were produced in the U.S. in 2015, and 3.1 million acres were grown under contract.
For the second year, USSEC ran a non-GMO Soy Food Bean Acreage Study in the fall of 2015. The survey, conducted with U.S. soy food bean exporters/contractors and soybean farmers, estimates the number of acres the U.S. has under contract for growing soy food beans, and among other production facts, assesses the percentage of acres grown for specific traditional soy food end uses.
The purpose of the study is to provide overseas soy food target audiences with quantifiable information on the 2015 U.S. non-GMO soy food bean crop. USSEC supplies U.S. food bean exporters with study insights to use in their overseas marketing efforts, including:
- An estimate of the 2015 total U.S. production of non-GMO soy food bean acreage;
- Estimates of the number of contracted non-GMO soy food bean acres;
- A report of the percentage of acres destined for specific traditional soy food end-use purposes; and
- A projection of the export tonnage of 2015 U.S. non-GMO soy food beans.
The type of information in this study isn’t collected by the USDA.
“As the export markets for our specialty soybeans has expanded over the last five years, our overseas customers and prospects for non-GMO, soy food beans told us they really wanted to understand more about our production. As food manufacturers, their interests ultimately link back to food safety and food security,” says Marypat Corbett, USSEC Marketing Director – Human Nutrition/Oil.
“With these study results, we can represent our national perspective and augment the very detailed, Identity Preserved shipment information they get from their U.S. exporters. Customers tell us they value the new information and use it within their companies,” Ms. Corbett goes on to say. “The national insights in this study go a long way to building even more customer confidence in doing business with the U.S., the largest supplier of these specialty soybeans in the world.”
The U.S. specialty soybean industry is also recognizing the promotional value of the study results. “We have had great cooperation from the export community! Last year we had a 25 percent increase in the number of exporter/contractors of soy food beans participating in the study,” states Ms. Corbett. “On average, they reported their companies purchased non-GMO soy food beans from farmers in three different states. Not only does that spread out their weather or other production risks, but also allows them to offer overseas customers more supply and/or varietal choices.”
USSEC uses the results of this study overseas and encourages U.S. non-GMO soy food bean exporters to share it with their customers and in their overseas marketing efforts.
The information was collected via a national, online survey with soy food bean export companies from across the U.S. who contract with growers to produce non-GMO, soy food beans. Additional information was collected via phone from non-GMO soy food bean growers from across the U.S.
USSEC plans to conduct this survey again in 2016.
According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death globally. More than seven million deaths per year are attributed to coronary heart disease, with unhealthy diets and obesity listed among the major risk factors. Many health-conscious consumers who are concerned about the role of fats in their diet have been confused by media reports about recent studies showing no connection between saturated fat and heart disease. Although eating saturated fat isn’t very good for you, neither is replacing it with refined carbohydrates that lack fiber and phytochemicals. Research shows that these foods are just as bad for you, if not worse, than foods high in saturated fats. Meanwhile, the health benefits of oils high in polyunsaturated fats—such as soybean oil—are sometimes lost in the forest of information.
Choosing healthy fats is one way to establish a more healthful eating pattern. Until recently, some nutrition experts thought this meant choosing olive oil, a monounsaturated fat high in oleic acid. However, research shows there is a better choice—consuming oils high in polyunsaturated fat. Although a number of oils are high in polyunsaturated fat—soybean oil, corn oil and safflower oil among them—only soybean oil provides both types of essential polyunsaturated fats, including omega-6, polyunsaturated fat linoleic acid, and omega-3 polyunsaturated fat, alpha-linolenic acid.
While there is no study showing the importance of consuming more vegetable oils, some research shows that the coronary benefits of oils with both types of essential fats are greater than oils providing only omega-6 fat.
Mark Messina, PhD, MS, the executive director of the Soy Nutrition Institute, says, “The message is that the impact of saturated fat on risk of heart disease is dependent on that which replaces it. Replace saturated fat with refined carbohydrates and simple sugars and no benefit is gained. Replace saturated fat with vegetable oils and foods like soyfoods, which are high in polyunsaturated fat, and risk is reduced.” He adds that high intake of polyunsaturated fat also may allow our bodies to use insulin more efficiently and may reduce the incidence of diabetes. In addition, higher blood levels of polyunsaturated fat are associated with lower blood pressure.
As part of its public education initiative, USSEC publicizes soy-related research and highlights the work of experts conducting studies on the health effects of eating soy. Regarding healthy fats, Harvard University researchers recently examined the relationship between the type of fat consumed and the risk of coronary heart disease in 84,628 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study between 1980 and 2010, and 42,908 men who took part in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, 1986-2010. Every four years, their diets were assessed by a food frequency questionnaire.
During the 24 to 30 years of this study, there were 7,667 incident cases of coronary heart disease. Results showed that replacing 5 percent of saturated fat calories with an equivalent caloric intake from polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fatty acids or carbohydrates from whole grains was associated with 25 percent, 15 percent and 9 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, respectively. Replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates from refined starches or added sugars did not lower the risk of heart disease.
“Nutritionists have moved from focusing on nutrient needs to focusing on foods. The thinking is that if you eat the most healthful foods, nutrient needs will be met in the most healthful way,” Dr. Messina points out. “Knowing that some foods are good sources of particular nutrients is still important, but the focus should be on overall dietary pattern. Foods are more than just a collection of individual nutrients. This is the approach taken by the recently released U.S. Dietary Guidelines,” he continues.
In addition to the health benefits of consuming oils high in polyunsaturated fat, soybean oil offers culinary advantages over many other oils, including its higher smoke point and its neutral taste.
USSEC Japan participated in the 21st National Natto Competition held in Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture, one of the areas hardest hit by the 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Japan. The competition was organized by Japan Natto Cooperative Society Federation to sponsor and demonstrate the commitment of the U.S. Soy industry for the Red River U.S. Award.
USSEC established the U.S. soybean prize category in the National Natto Competition in 2011 in collaboration with the Northern Food Grade Soybean Association (NFGSA). This year, a total of 194 natto products entered the competition, up 72 percent from 2010, a year before the U.S. Soy Industry begun sponsoring the event.
2016 team members included Jess Paulson, Agricultural Attache, U.S. Embassy -Tokyo; USSEC Country Director – Japan Mitsuyuki Nishumura; and Masi Tateishi, USSEC North Asia Regional Human Utilization (HU) Manager & Japan HU Director.
Mr. Paulson provided opening comments at the reception and press meeting in Japanese, including these highlights, “We understand Japanese growers produce high quality soybeans, however, as a result of our trade-partnership we have built with the Japanese natto industry, it’s a great honor for us to have the great relationships we have today and appreciate that the U.S. team can participate in this very important event.”
His speech was followed by Yoshihiro Noro, chairman of Japan Natto Cooperative Society Federation, who gave a welcome greeting. Mr. Noro expressed appreciation to the U.S. Soy Industry for its help with the relief effort for the 2011 Tohoku earthquake & tsunami. “We would like to extend our appreciation when the big earthquake and tsunami hit here in Tohoku in 2011, the U.S. Soybean Export Council reached out a hand of early assistance to the affected areas and it helped us to be able to deliver 79,000 servings of natto made with U.S. Soy to the shelters in Tohoku,” he stated.
Sasanuma Goro Shoten, located in Ibaragi Prefecture, was named winner of the 6th Red River Valley U.S. award. Hiroshi Sasanuma, president of Sasanuma Goro Shoten, said, “I am extremely happy to receive this award as I have been wanting this more than anything.”
USSEC and NFGSA will continue to commit to to supply more than 80 percent of Japan’s natto of U.S. Soy to that country’s industry, strengthening U.S. Soy sales and preserving customer loyalty to U.S. soybeans.
Next year’s Natto Competition will be held in Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, the oldest city in Japan.
With the American Cancer Society estimating that 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year, identifying ways to reduce breast cancer risk is of paramount importance. Eating soy appears to be one of those ways, but the key is consuming soy during childhood and/or adolescence. In fact, there is increased recognition of the connection between early life events and adult cancers. To this point, the authors of a recent commentary published in the American Journal of Epidemiology concluded “… growing evidence … links childhood and adolescent lifestyle and environmental exposures with subsequent risk of cancers arising in adulthood.” The possible link between early soy intake and reduced breast cancer risk was first recognized 20 years ago.
In 1995, Coral Lamartiniere, PhD, who is with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, first proposed that consuming soyfoods early in life markedly reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. Over the past two decades, this hypothesis has steadily gained acceptance within the medical and scientific communities. In 2014, a group of experts identified eating soyfoods during adolescence as one of six dietary steps that can reduce risk of cancer.
As part of its public education initiative, USSEC publicizes soy-related research and highlights the work of experts conducting studies on the health effects of eating soy. At the most recent meeting of the Soy Nutrition Institute, held September 3 and 4, 2015 in Seattle, Dr. Lamartiniere discussed evidence in support of the “early soy intake hypothesis.” The Soy Nutrition Institute (SNI) invited Dr. Lamartiniere to its September 2015 meeting for a research update and to discuss the possibility of conducting a clinical study capable of testing the validity of the hypothesis. Mark Messina, PhD, MS, the executive director of the SNI commented, “While there is substantial evidence showing consuming soy when young is protective against breast cancer, generating clinical data would draw even more attention to this hypothesis.”
Dr. Lamartiniere has shown in a series of experiments that when young rats are exposed to genistein—the major isoflavone found in soybeans— the development of mammary cancer is reduced by as much as 50 percent. Exposure to genistein for even brief periods “programs” the mammary gland in a way that permanently makes it less likely to develop cancer. Interestingly, Dr. Lamartiniere’s laboratory has shown that genistein is also protective against mammary cancer in rats when consumed during adulthood, but only when exposure also occurs early in life.
Isoflavones are naturally occurring compounds that have a very limited distribution within the plant kingdom. Hence, people who regularly consume soyfoods ingest ample amounts of isoflavones whereas diets lacking in soyfoods are almost completely devoid of these compounds.
Recently, Dr. Lamartiniere’s group conducted a human study, which supports the “early soy intake hypothesis.” In young girls, blood levels of proteins associated with protection against cancer were increased in those excreting large amounts of genistein, indicating they were consuming soyfoods. In contrast, in girls excreting large amounts of bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins, levels of proteins associated with an increased risk of cancer were increased. These results in girls reflect findings in animal studies wherein genistein is protective against cancer and BPA increases cancer risk.
Population studies conducted over the past 15 years support the notion that early soy intake is protective against breast cancer. Of course, it is well recognized that breast cancer incidence rates are low in soyfood-consuming countries. However, these studies, which have been conducted in both Shanghai and the United States, show that adult women of Asian ethnicity who reported consuming about one serving of soyfoods daily during the teenage years were anywhere from 28 percent to 60 percent less likely to have breast cancer in comparison to those women who consumed little soy when young.
Because soyfoods are nutritious additions to the diet and only one serving per day appears sufficient to reduce breast cancer risk, it certainly makes sense for girls to consume soyfoods. One serving of soyfoods equals a cup of soymilk, an ounce of soy nuts or one-half cup of tofu.
USSEC Japan recently organized a mini U.S. Soy oil roundtable inviting Japan Oilseed Processors Association (JOPA), Japan Oil & Fat Importers and Exporters Association (JOFIEA), and FAS Tokyo. The meeting included USSEC Country Director – Japan Mitsuyuki Nishimura; USSEC North Asia Regional Human Utilization (HU) Manager & Japan HU Director Masi Tateishi; Akira Saito, executive director of JOPA; Kazugumi Aramoto, secretary general of JOFIEA, David Miller, Agricultural Counselor, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Tokyo; Jess Paulsen, Agricultural Attaché, FAS Tokyo; and Yuichi Hayashi, Agricultural Specialist, FAS Tokyo.
The team discussed recent news from the vegetable oil market and USSEC’s ongoing soy oil activities, as well as recent soybean import. USSEC is pleased to announce that the U.S. soybean exports to Japan, the third largest market for U.S. Soy exports, increased 26.10 percent or 482,621 metric tons (MT) in 2015 from the previous year, while Japan’s total soybean import was up 414,714 MT or 14.70 percent.
According to Japan Trade statistics, the U.S. market share in Japan improved from 65.39 percent to 71.91 percent. This was due to Japanese soybean crush in 2015 increasing to 2,248,240 MT, up 12.9 percent or 256,000 MT, from 2014 because of a better crush margin of soybean than canola. As a result, Japanese soy oil production in 2015 increased to 431,884 MT, up 10.1 percent from 2014.
Increased identity preserved (IP) food grade soybean imports have also contributed to the increase, along with a greater U.S. market share over the last four to five years. Japan’s total IP food grade soybeans import was up 5.9 percent between 2011 and 2014. In 2012, 310,000 MT of U.S. IP food grade soybeans were exported to Japan, giving the U.S. a 43 percent market share. That number rose to 370,000 MT in 2014, giving the U.S. a 48 percent market share. Therefore, U.S. market share rose five percent during the two-year period from 2012 to 2014, and the volume of U.S. IP food grade soybean import increased 19.35 percent or 60,000 MT, and a further increase is estimated for 2015 statistics.
USSEC believes the increase in the U.S. market share is a combination of external environment and its accumulated steady efforts on creating a preference for U.S. Soy by building and maintaining relationships through trade servicing activities, especially the message of the U.S. commitment to remaining a stable, consistent and sustainable supplier, which has permeated and eased Japan’s past trade concerns on the capability of the U.S. to supply commodity soybeans as well as non-GMO IP food grade soybeans to Japan.
USSEC Japan will continue to work on U.S. Soy 0il promotion, which includes collaboration with JOPA to conduct a soy oil seminar as well as an industrial use seminar in FY16.
United Soybean Board (USB) directors Jim Carroll (USB) and Rob Hanks (USB) traveled to the 1st Gastronomic Soy Food Fair in Bogota, Colombia on November 22. The event marked Colombia’s first food festival dedicated entirely to the soybean.
30 reporters from 23 media sources were invited to participate in the invitation-only event at the MNR Ediciones offices. The purpose of the fair was to educate and engage the media by hosting a cooking class where invitees could learn about the gastronomic qualities of soy in food preparation and the benefits of soy and soybean oil in human health.
USSEC Regional Representative – Americas Francisco de la Torre, who discussed the importance of the U.S. and Colombian soy industries with the press, attended the event. Renowned chef Catalina Velez also discussed the benefits of soy and soybean oil.
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.
USSEC led a soybean oil marketing mission from August 16-21 to Costa Rica and Mexico. The Americas region is U.S. soy oil’s largest exporting destination and these two countries are U.S. Soy’s biggest oil customers.
United Soybean Board (USB) directors Jim Domagalski of Michigan, Dallas Wright of Delaware, Jay Myers of North Dakota, and Belinda Burrier of Maryland, along with American Soybean Association (ASA) director Ron Moore of Illinois joined USSEC Marketing Director – Human Nutrition/Oil Marypat Corbett, Marketing Assistant – Human Nutrition/Oil Jelena Smojver, Regional Commercial, Technical & Marketing Director – MENA Mousa Wakileh, USSEC Regional Director – Americas Francisco de la Torre, USSEC Regional Marketing Director – Americas Nayeli Villanova, and USSEC consultants Pedro Gonzalez, and Mark Anderson on this trip.
The purpose of the mission was to examine future export opportunities and competitive global market factors impacting U.S. soybean oil that can help define and develop effective defensive/counter-offensive actions and market development activities to increase the value and volume of U.S. soy oil exports.
The trip included an orientation on the vegetable oil retail sector in both Costa Rica and in Mexico, which involved visits to several different types of grocery stores. The shops included all types from large warehouse-style stores to small, mom-and-pop corner stores known as “chicos.”
The grocery store visits provided the U.S. farmers with an opportunity to observe and investigate how oils are marketed and sold in this region. At each store, the grower leaders looked at the types of oil, the length of the vegetable oil aisle and the shape, size and labeling of the container.
The U.S. farmers marveled at the vastness of consumers’ oil choices. Mr. Domagalski said, “The aisles that contained soy oils and other frying oils were from one end to the other.”
Ms. Corbett explained, “The competition [between oils] is unbelievably huge in both countries. Some vegetable oil aisles were over 50 feet long and had shelves that were 6 feet high – full of vegetable oils. They contained soy and soy blends, solid palm oil and liquid blends, canola and blends, sunflower and blends, and olive oil. The containers ranged in size from 2 pints to 4 gallons.”
In the Americas region, the per capita purchase and consumption of vegetable oils is 4.5 gallons (17 liters) a year, because people often fry foods for all three daily meals.
Mr. Domagalski continued, “Here in the U.S., I took notice when I returned. The frying oils areas are much smaller. Even with the fact that here, there are also several oils to choose from, the volume didn’t compare to Costa Rica stores.”
Consumption of vegetable oil is even higher in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region – closer to 9 – 12 gallons per year. Oil is used for every meal and to preserve pickles, which are extremely popular and served at least twice per day. Mr. Wakileh pointed out that, many years ago, the crushing and refining industry throughout the MENA region established regulations that made it illegal to blend oils.
Labeling of soybean oil in the Americas region is very different from the United States with helpful health benefit label claims on the soy oil bottles such as “Omega 3 and 6” and “No Trans Fats.” Some products had healthy additives such as Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and flavors such as garlic. The companies capitalize on soy’s differences from the competing oils and use a “Soy is Healthy” platform. In addition, there are cardiac health and diabetes association labels endorsing the use of certain oils.
The next phase of the mission included interactions with the largest U.S. soy oil customers in the two countries. Both are crushing/refining companies and are interested in the promise of the U.S Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol.
According to Mr. Moore, “These companies are some of U.S. soybean farmers’ best customers.”
With help from USSEC, both companies were responsible for introducing soybean oil into their markets over 10 years ago and making it the premium priced oil. Both have established their soy oil market and increased sales using a health platform, with one company relying upon Facebook as its most important form of communication. The other company has seen its marketing programs significantly increase its sales.
Both crusher/refiner companies gave several examples where they had recently been recently challenged to migrate away from soybean oil by very large customers. The solution for the refiner could be to add a small percentage of another oil to its current 100 percent soybean oil product to meet the demands of this large customer.
The two companies stressed how they value U.S. soybean growers and their long-term relationship with USSEC, mentioning specifically that no other commodity or company offers partnering knowledge of the market place like U.S. Soy growers. Both crusher/refiners mentioned that they see U.S. soybean farmers as a true industry partner. They said it would be extremely beneficial to them if the U.S. would start labeling the soybean oil sold in U.S. grocery stores as soybean oil and not vegetable oil.
These businesses import whole U.S. soybeans and are very much interested in soybeans that have a composition which would give them higher oil yields and make a soybean meal that is higher in protein – they want more than 37 percent protein. These companies are interested in high oleic soybean oil as they see it as a way to effectively compete against South American soybean oil, canola and sunflower high oleic oil.
Mr. Moore said, “They indicated that they preferred U.S. soybeans because of their higher quality. They also were excited about the new high oleic soybeans and wanted to purchase them as soon as they became available.”
The purpose of the roundtable meetings was for grower leaders to leave with an impression of what’s going on in the market and with a better understanding of what U.S. oil’s future so that USSEC can better strategize its projects in the coming years. Two important outcomes of the meeting were that USSEC confirmed and quantified competitors’ bench strength over the next one to three years and helped confirm regional priorities and prospective positioning focus for future U.S. soy oil program development.
Ms. Burrier said, “The roundtable discussions were very productive for all involved. The key piece I took away was the magnitude Facebook played in the popularity of soy oil and the promotion of soy oil as a heart healthy product with added Omega 3.”
USSEC’s next steps include working to get U.S. companies to relabel their vegetable oil as soybean oil; encouraging India to consume more palm oil, which threatens the consumption of U.S. soybean oil; concentrating on defending its U.S. export markets in the Americas and MENA; and expanding partnering efforts with customers because they positively impact exports of U.S. soybean oil.
Buyers from China have agreed to buy $5.3 billion worth of U.S. Soy, totaling more than 484 million bushels of U.S. soybeans. The announcement was made today in Des Moines, Iowa.
“Anytime an agreement like this is made, it is great for U.S. soybean farmers,” says Laura Foell, U.S. Soybean Export Council chair and soybean farmer from Iowa. “Our international customers demand a product that is sustainable and high quality, and that’s what U.S. soybean farmers continue to deliver.”
In the most recent marketing year, U.S. Soy exports accounted for 62 percent of U.S. Soy production. China alone imports approximately 25 percent of all U.S. Soy. The country was the No. 1 buyer of whole U.S. soybeans in the 2013/14 marketing year and the second-biggest buyer of U.S. soybean oil.
“This is a great example of how our farmer-leaders’ work of establishing relationships in China are paying off,” Foell says. “We must continue this work with China and other countries since exports are so important to the U.S. Soy industry.”
In the most recent marketing year, U.S. soybean farmers exported 2 billion bushels of soy to international customers. The value of these exports set a record of more than $30 billion.
The U.S. Soybean Export Council aims to maximize the use of U.S. Soy internationally by meeting the needs of global customers that use U.S. Soy in human food and feed for poultry, livestock and fish. The organization uses a global network of stakeholder partnerships, including soybean farmers, exporters, agribusinesses, agricultural organizations, researchers and government agencies, to accomplish that mission.
USSEC will host a signing ceremony for Chinese customers on September 24 in Des Moines, Iowa. The purchase coincides with President Xi Jinping’s visit to the U.S.
USSEC chairman Laura Foell says this agreement demonstrates that U.S. farmers continue to produce high-quality, sustainable soybeans in response to demand from international customers.
China imports approximately 25 percent of all U.S. Soy. The country was the top purchaser of whole U.S. soybeans in the 2013/14 marketing year and the second-biggest buyer of U.S. soybean oil.
USSEC recently conducted a baking workshop at the University Vasco de Quiroga in Morelia, Mexico, to promote the use and performance of U.S. soybean oil margarines, shortenings and soy flour in baking applications.
This workshop, led by USSEC consultants Jorge Martínez and Oliverio Cruz, consisted of one theoretical session and one practical session. About 30 people from the baking industry in Morelia attended.
Mr. Martinez gave two presentations, the first titled “The Health Benefits of Soybean Oil.” The second covered the baking process, where he discussed the basic and optional ingredients for bread making and their functions, classifications of flours and their functions, dough formation and the relation with the gluten formation, baking dynamics, and the functions of shortenings and margarines. To illustrate these concepts, he discussed the preparation of recipes of baked goods and cookies.
Mr. Cruz conducted the practical session, where four kinds of common breads were prepared using U.S. soybean flour and soybean oil shortenings and margarines. Experienced bakers and participants tasted the prepared breads and all concluded that the use of soybean products does not affect the flavor and functionality of the breads, but enhances them. Participants also decided that the addition of soy flour to bread enhances the profitability due to a greater dough yield, lower dough cost and increased shelf life.
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.