The Greater Europe region is a key market for the U.S. Soy industry in both whole soybeans and soymeal exports.
With a population of 850 million people, the region represents 27 percent of the world’s GDP (for comparison purposes, the GDP of the U.S. is 23 percent of the global GDP), although its GDP growth is essentially flat.
Europe represents 11 percent of U.S. soybean and soymeal exports at 6,500,00 MT (238 million bushels). The 10 countries of Germany, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Italy, United Kingdom, Denmark, Portugal, Turkey and Russia import over 150,000 MT of U.S. Soy. U.S. East Coast exports to Europe are strong.
This growing market share for U.S. soybean meal demonstrates an increasing preference for U.S. meal, and the reliability of U.S. Soy export shipments has helped increase U.S. soybean exports to European markets. An increasing awareness of quality differences by soy production origin is occurring in Europe and is supportive of U.S. Soy’s advantages.
The U.S. Soy industry holds a competitive advantage in the Greater Europe region because of its work in the area of sustainability, which is of increasing importance to the European food and feed industry. As mentioned previously, NEVEDI approved the SSAP as a sustainable program in early 2015, and USSEC has worked closely with the European feed association, FEFAC, as it develops its sustainable scheme for the feed industry throughout Europe. USSEC also submitted the SSAP to the European Commission for use under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) in April 2015 and continues discussion and review for its approval.
Europe is the world’s second largest GMO soy importer behind China. Approximately 90 percent of commercial feed produced in Europe is GMO. The European food industry, however, continues to greatly limit the use of GMO products due to labelling restrictions and a strong NGO presence. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the U.S. and the EU is being negotiated and could potentially create a quicker import approval process for Ag biotech events.
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During the second week of April, USSEC met with integrated companies and feed mills from Romania to listen to and understand their challenges and offer technical assistance to customers of U.S. Soy. USSEC consultants Dr. Craig Coon, professor of poultry nutrition at the University of Arkansas, and Dr. Jan van Eys, animal utilization consultant from France, traveled to Romania to visit with large and rapidly expanding companies; all were top companies in their respective fields in southern Romania. Meeting with managers, quality control managers, nutritionists, and veterinarians was instructive and enhanced the access of U.S. Soy to these customers.
Together with the specialists at the companies visited, the USSEC experts reviewed the businesses’ quality control programs and laboratory methods. At this stage, the feed mill laboratories are pre-formatted and are under excellent management, thanks to the investments and high level of investment in the education of young professionals.
High levels of certain mycotoxins have been detected over the past year in the imported South American soybean meal in Romania and continue to be a problem for feed and livestock producers. Dr. Coon emphasized seasonal advantage (September to March), good infrastructure, and logistics as key advantages of U.S. Soy during discussions with the technical personnel of the companies visited.
Dr. van Eys, the author of the USSEC Soy Quality Manual, pointed out that careful attention should be paid to KOH protein solubility index since feed manufacturers around the world often found this quality parameter below the recommended levels and needing to be constantly investigated. Similarly, soybean meal carbohydrate levels are highly variable and have to be constantly analyzed compared with reference values.
The meetings with feed mill managers, quality control managers, nutritionists, and veterinarians were informative and allowed USSEC to gain a better understanding of the reality of the Romanian poultry and feed industries and its potential for progress and expansion. It clearly showed the opportunities and potential that exist in the Romanian market for growth in poultry production, and, consequently for the use of U.S. Soy products.
Specifically, USSEC should assist or continue provide local feed producers and integrations with information and support to enhance the understanding and importance of quality measures and formulation advantages/techniques to increase the performance of feeds and animals and, through this, show the potential of U.S. Soy.
USSEC’s 3rd Annual Advanced Training Program for Veterinarians from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) was held at the University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine, in Gainesville, Florida from May 15- 19. 22 industry-leading veterinarians from the poultry industries of Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey participated in this educational program.
Presentations focused on practical application involving vaccination, disease control, and management in commercial poultry. This forum stimulated considerable discussions among the veterinarians from the different countries and provided ample opportunity for the exchange of ideas.
USSEC again has played a leading role in providing technical support for the MENA region’s commercial poultry industry.
On May 11, USSEC sponsored the annual networking event for the Dutch feed industry. Co-organized by the Royal Dutch Grain and Feed Trade Association (Het Comite) and the Dutch Feed Industry Association (NEVEDI), the event took place in a former feed mill complex, innovatively renovated as an event space, on the outskirts of Utrecht, Netherlands. As in the past, the organizers chose a broad theme for presentations and discussion. USSEC has participated in prior year’s sessions on sustainability and protein sources of the future. This year’s theme was Consumer Demand.
The first speaker of the morning session set the tone and provided an outline of how “incidences” lead to trends, which lead to patterns. A Dutch psychologist provided an analysis on consumer behavior in the supermarket, dispelling the five myths of consumer behavior, noting that while price is important, sustainability is of increasing importance to at least two of the market segments. She noted the importance of the social environment and that providing more information and facts alone will not change consumer preferences. A motivating story is better than facts.
The afternoon session began with a presentation by a representative of the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals who described a new market initiative to label meat on the retail level with “stars” based on their animal welfare standards. Science-based with input from all stakeholders, from producers to retailers, the program appears to be successful and is expanding with one of the major bulk/discount retailers in the Netherlands.
Brent Babb, USSEC Regional Director – Europe (EU) / Middle East –North Africa (MENA) provided a presentation on sustainable soybean production in the United States and the U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP). He noted that NEVEDI was the first European organization to recognize the scheme and their critical assistance in having the scheme later recognized by FEFAC, the European-wide feed industry association. Mr. Babb also highlighted USSEC engagement with the Field to Market program and how this project engages a broad representation of interests, focused on continuous improvement and output metrics.
The final speaker of the day was an academic researcher who summarized her work on the lifecycle analysis of meat consumption, including “consequential analysis” of secondary impact. Among her conclusions is that switching from imported soybean meal to domestically produced rapeseed meal in animal feed would have a significant environmental impact, particularly in terms of greenhouse gases and energy use. She also defended a limited role for animal protein in meeting the global nutritional needs of the future.
At the end, all the speakers joined the directors of NEVEDI and Het Comite on the stage and participated in a discussion on various statements, with active voting and participation of the audience.
USSEC’s support for this event is critical and appreciated by the organizers. It provides a speaking platform for USSEC, enables networking and building contacts and critical insights into the current conditions and dynamics of the Dutch feed and livestock production industries. All involved look forward to next year’s event.
For the past year, promoting sustainable agricultural supply chains has been an important subject, both in EU countries and globally. Recently, sustainably produced feed, poultry, and livestock products have been a hot topic for Romanian and Polish poultry companies as well.
The poultry meat products in southeastern and central European countries are high quality due to excellent growing and modern slaughtering conditions but are sometimes unable to reach western markets because of export requirements often based on different certifications systems in different countries or increasing supermarket pressure and less because of consumer demand.
The sustainability of the poultry meat production system can be influenced by several factors, including the origination of ingredients, chemical composition, and nutrient digestibility of a diet, among others. Because the poultry industry is largely dependent on soy as its main protein source, this ingredient is tightly interlinked with sustainability today.
In an effort to show commitment to the Romanian and Polish poultry industries and build a preference for U.S. Soy, USSEC held a one day seminar on “Sustainable Soy, Poultry Production, and Marketing” in Bucharest, Romania with the goal to educate poultry nutritionists, veterinarians, management and marketing experts on U.S Sustainable Soy and poultry production.
In his speech, Dr. Jan van Eys introduced the current market situation for feed and soy, followed by USSEC’s sustainability program and a discussion on quality differences among origins in anti-nutritional factors. These aspects were a good introduction for the other speakers.
The key messages delivered by Mack Graves, management and marketing consultant stressed how modern consumers today prefer meat products produced with sustainable ingredients. Sustainability is a new marketing tool for the meat industries, which can be good for business as well as the environment. Companies must become transparent in all they do to and establish consumer trust and enhance meat consumption. More than 90 percent of the soybean meal consumed in Romania and Poland is imported, either directly as meal or as soybeans that are locally processed into soybean meal. Soybean meal and beans are some of the ingredients for which the Romanian Feed Manufactures Association specifically supports industry initiatives in order to make the supply chain more sustainable.
As the local market and export demand for poultry meat grows, so too does demand for poultry feed. In recent years, the demand for vegetable protein meals for use in poultry feed has increased in Romania, and this trend is likely to continue over the coming decade. The increasing consumption of vegetal protein in feed, combined with increasing meat consumption and sophistication of the customer should raise important questions about how the supply of soybean meal can keep pace with rising demand for poultry feed. Collaboration between U.S. farmers, suppliers, and integrated poultry meat producers is a crucial part for sustainable animal production. Romanian poultry meat producers recognize U.S. farmers and suppliers for their continuous improvement and their effort to address the big issues associated with soy production such as environment protection, soil preservation and water quality.
Dr. Craig Coon presented the latest findings in the field of broiler and broiler breeders’ nutritional research. Genetic progress of broilers’ growth performance traits has been exponential in the past decades. Selection for increased growth rate (feed intake) has led to their improved efficiency through their capacity to process increasing amounts of nutrients on a daily basis. Feed intake is regulated not only by dietary energy level but also by the concentration of amino acids in the diet (balanced protein).
Rene Schepens from Fermentation Experts Denmark emphasized that fermented plant protein can replace fishmeal while fermentation of vegetal protein increases the efficiency of use of phosphorous (100 percent) and nitrogen (15 percent), avoids environmental pollution and increases profits. Indigestible and anti-nutritional components in the raw materials are converted into health promoters during fermentation, if it is done in the correct manner.
There is an enormous worldwide additional need for protein (meat/eggs) in the future, and meanwhile, there is a limited availability and acceptance of animal protein in feed. Current animal farming practices emphasize on more natural rearing, fewer medicines/antibiotics and a continuing pressure to be efficient with inputs and output (N, P) are other two main trends in the Western feed and livestock business.
With the dependence of the Romanian and Polish poultry and feed industries on imported high quality protein ingredients such as fishmeal of soy protein concentrate (SPC) and/or soy protein isolate (SPI) for their specialty diets in broiler pre-starters and young animals, the development of substitutes such as fermented soybean meal is of major interest, both practical as well as economical.
By the end of the seminar, poultry professionals understood how to address the industry and marketing challenges and how the sustainability of meat production can be influenced through certification, manufacturing processes and policy change. A coordinated effort across the industry that includes ingredient purchasers, nutritionists and veterinarians and marketing managers may result in a more sustainable poultry industry in Romania.
After several years of sustained growth, the Romanian poultry industry has reached a stage where the management and marketing needs to be fine-tuned. USSEC has understood and answered the need of the poultry customers, organizing an exploratory visit from April 8-11 to understand the achievements and challenges of the poultry meat producers in Romania.
Mack Graves, a consultant specializing in corporate strategy, management focus, and marketing effectiveness in companies and organizations across the protein chain from beef to poultry, was invited together with USSEC animal consultant Dr. Jan van Eys, to visit with leading integrators in broiler and turkey meat production located in southern and central Romania. Bona Avis and Penes Curcanul are both important players and trendsetters within the Romanian market and commodity usage, and are consequently potential to increased soy usage.
Several years ago, Mr. Graves consulted with poultry integrated companies in Romania on behalf of U.S. Soy farmers.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see during my visit to Romania the evolution of the consumer towards quality and convenience poultry meat products,” said Mr. Graves. “The poultry meat products today are high quality thanks to the investments in high quality farming technologies and modern poultry processing plants. From what we understood, the Romanian poultry meat is not always reaching the export markets because of different quality certifications systems from different markets. Entering new markets and reaching the increasing demand for quality of the consumer are part of the sustainable marketing strategy.”
Today’s modern consumers prefer meat products produced with sustainable ingredients. Sustainability is a new marketing tool for the meat industries, which is good for business as well as the environment.
“Companies must become transparent in all they do to establish consumer trust and enhance meat consumption,” Mr. Graves concluded.
After his visit to Romania, Dr. van Eys reported, “Continuous promotional efforts to accompany the growth of this market and positioning of U.S. products in this market are recommended. Clearly, great progress has been made in the feed industry but some key opportunities for improvements remain. Those opportunities can be addressed by USSEC and, in the process, U.S. Soy will be promoted and profiled for its quality characteristics. The Romanian industry and market stands to grow significantly over the next several years, so an enhanced position of USSEC and U.S. Soy should translate in increased sales and opportunities.”