Effective Interactions with Russian Customer Continuing via Virtual Format

During this unprecedented time, face-to-face communications have been rapidly replaced by screen-to-screen communications. USSEC adapted nimbly, continuing to maintain relationships with Sodrugestvo Company, a key Russian customer of U.S. Soy.
In answer to the invitation extended last year by Sodrugestvo Group to USSEC, a series of hybrid meetings were initiated and hosted by the Kaliningrad-based company in April 2020. USSEC consultants Dr. Jan van Eys and Dr. Iani Chihaia attended a series of online webinars coordinated by Dr. Maria Domoroshchenkova, USSEC Consultant for Russian Federation, and Yulia Gunali, Special Protein Products Manager from Trade House Sodrugestvo.

Although conducted from different locations, the event was a success thanks to USSEC’s strong bonds and long-term relationship with Sodrugestvo’s team

The live events were broadcasted through Skype for Business platform to the audience located at the soybean crushing facilities in Kaliningrad and to the virtual audience including the company’s regional representatives, marketing and sales managers, and technical and quality control specialists located among the vast territory of the Russian Federation – Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Belgorod, Kazan, and Belarus.
Although it was not easy to switch from face-to-face to virtual meetings, this first USSEC online activity for the Greater Europe region successfully accomplished all of its goals: to promote U.S. Soy, to assist the customers, and to maintain the relationship with one of Europe’s leading soy crushers, GC Sodrugestvo.
“Maintaining customer relationships isn’t the only challenge when everyone is remote,” states Dr. Domoroshchenkova. “We keep focused to communicate effectively with customers in order to set the stage for the upcoming initiatives and events and to pave the way for resuming commercial relationships. USSEC consultants proved that we all stand ready to stimulate U.S. soy demand and facilitate commercial interactions. We hope that the upcoming period will bring fruitful cooperation and more chances to celebrate the moments of success. Although it is not always easy to accomplish all the goals we set, thanks to the great relationship with the Sodrugestvo team, we were able to make the most of it and look forward to the lifting of temporary restrictions for the import of U.S. soybeans to Russia.”
Kaliningrad, the site of Sodrugestvo Group, is the largest manufacturer of soybean meal and soy protein concentrates in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The company plans to expand the production of value-added soy proteins to meet growing demand from aquaculture and other species. Usage of high quality soybeans is vitally important for maintaining of the high nutritional value of soy proteins. During the webinars, Dr. Chihaia clearly demonstrated the difference of quality parameters of soybeans of different origins and the high nutritional parameters and sustainability of U.S. soybeans. Dr. van Eys focused his presentations on the nutritional characteristics of value-added soy proteins and their benefits for different feeding applications.

The hybrid meetings were productively conducted through the Skype for Business platform and the audience had access from the headquarters of the company and from remote regions of the Russian Federation
Many technical questions were asked prior to the webinars to be covered by the presentations of USSEC speakers. Additionally, a live chat took place during Q&A sessions and breaks
The setup of the event and the quality of audio-video allowed easy and effective interaction between event speakers and participants in spite of thousands of miles of physical distancing
With several locations around Europe, Sodrugestvo actively operates in the region

Sodrugestvo is currently one of the largest oilseed crushers in Europe, with its headquarters based in Luxembourg. The Sodrugestvo Global Trade is one of the leading global agro-industrial operators, with business that actively operates in the regions of Russia and the CIS, Scandinavia and Northern Europe, Mediterranean and Middle East, and Central and Latin America.
The group is the largest soybean crusher in Russia and owns state-of-the-art port infrastructure and cargo transshipment facilities that provide access to countries and regions with limited access to the global markets. Through its subsidiaries, Sodrugestvo controls and manages various logistics centers (warehouses) and ports located in the CIS and Baltic States, including a fleet of modern grain trucks and light and heavy tonnage vessels. The company focuses on supplying oilseed processing products including oilseed meals and oils to the markets of Russia, the CIS, Baltic States, Northern Europe, and Scandinavia as well as a supply of grains and other agricultural crops to the markets of Europe, North Africa, and other Mediterranean countries.