Japanese Natto Buyers Attend Annual Natto Summit in North Dakota

By - Tuesday, October 15, 2019

USSEC, together with the Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance (SSGA), organized the 3rd annual U.S. – Japan Natto Summit in Fargo, North Dakota September 3 to 5. 23 Japanese natto soybean buyers, along with about 30 natto suppliers from North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Arkansas and Ohio, participated in the event.

With natto producers, distributers, and buyers gathered together, attendees were able to develop relationships and discuss industry issues.

“The Natto Summit allows buyers to get together with the rest of the industry to discuss challenges and opportunities and maybe create more natto sales in an industry that is growing in Japan,” says Masi Tateishi, USSEC Regional Human Utilization Director – North Asia. “Natto buyers also enjoy touring the facilities and seeing how the soybeans are handled safely and reliably.”

Attendees learned about challenges and promotional activities in the natto industry, U.S. and global food trends, soybean production, agricultural technology, transportation, commodity supply and demand, gene editing, and more.

Team members visited U.S. identity preserved (IP) processing facilities, including SB&B Foods, Inc. in Casselton, North Dakota; Brushvale Seed in Breckenridge, Minnesota; and Richland IFC in Dwight, North Dakota, where they toured soybean research plots and breeding nurseries and facilities, which helped them to see each step in the food grade soybean cleaning process firsthand. The Japanese delegation also visited soybean farms in the Red River Valley region to learn more about the intrinsic and extrinsic values of U.S. natto varieties and its supply system.

“I was just assigned to Chief of Procurement Department this spring, so this Natto Summit helped me to train myself and connect with various U.S. suppliers,” said one Japanese natto team. “I was fortunate that the owner of this company provided me the opportunity.”

A U.S. supplier remarked, “The Natto Summit was helpful for my business growth.”

What Japanese soybean buyers seek most from USSEC is to serve as a direct bridge between U.S. farmers and suppliers, as well as the most updated information relevant to U.S. Soy, global food trends, technologies, and sustainability to determine future purchases and assure current business practices.

The Natto Summit came to fruition due to support from the U.S. soy industry, as well as the long-term, strong relationship USSEC has built with the Japanese natto industry since 2003. The event is aimed to further evolve sustainable relationships and improve knowledge of mutual industries for further growth. In 2017, the first Natto Summit was organized in Fargo; the second was organized in Gunma, Japan in 2018 in conjunction with the National Natto Competition. The next Natto Summit will be scheduled in Japan in 2021.