At the end of June 2020, the VIth International Business Forum “World Soy Online” was held in St. Petersburg, Russia. Since the first conference organized in 2015, the World Soy Forum has become one of the main annual soy events in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) for local oilseed crushers, feed millers, and livestock companies. This year for the first time, the forum was organized online due to travel and meeting restrictions caused by COVID-19. The virtual forum united 26 speakers from 5 countries and more than 200 attendees for 5 days and 15 hours of online communications using two platforms, Zoom and the Event.Rocks app. The forum participants were able to use Russian and English channels for listening to the presentations and connecting with speakers.
The World Soy Forum is organized by the Publishing House Sfera from St. Petersburg. USSEC, as a gold partner of this event for six consecutive years, provided the knowledge on the latest technical developments, market trends, and soy innovations in the global and U.S. soy industry and transfers knowledge about the benefits of U.S. soybeans and soy products to local customers.
Within five days of the virtual event, the topics discussed at the forum sessions were “Analytics and Prospects of the Russian and Global Soy Markets”; “Selection, Seed Production, Cultivation”; “Soy in Animal Feeding”; “Quality Control of Soybeans and Soy Products”; and “Technologies and Equipment for Soy Processing”
The USSEC video clips featuring U.S. Soy with Russian subtitles were shown during all forum days. In the video, USSEC CEO Jim Sutter explained very clearly USSEC’s mission and global activities, focusing on the importance of sustainable farming practices for the growth of production of U.S. Soy to Russian customers. He told why sustainability is fundamental for U.S. soy farmers who are working hard to meet the food needs of the growing global population. In the welcome speech, Maria Domoroshchenkova, USSEC Russia Representative, told the forum attendees about recent USSEC activities extended to local customers.
The block of presentations by U.S. speakers aroused a great interest among the participants. Two grower leaders, Wendy Yeager, United Soybean Board (USB) director, and Steph Essick, American Soybean Association (ASA) director, shared their personal experience of soy farming and presented a farmers’ perspective on sustainable U.S. soy production. Brent Babb, USSEC Regional Director – EU / Middle East North Africa (MENA), provided a soy market update and described the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP).
Emily French, the founder and managing director of ConsiliAgra, shared her analysis of the global oilseed market, emphasizing the dominant role of soybeans as a global protein source. She clearly showed that U.S. soybeans are a key sustainable supply solution for world soybean – protein users.
The USSEC session was highlighted by the World Soy Forum attendees as one of the most interesting, spurring a lot of questions and discussions. The Q&A sessions that followed the presentations of the U.S. speakers were the most intensive. Russian customers were excited for the given opportunity to communicate with Wendy Yeager online and were interested in how a grower leader manages an individual farm and engages in a number of social activities.
“Practice has shown that a full-fledged industry conference can and should be held in an online format,” sayes Elizaveta Dyachkova, Project Director of the Publishing House Sfera. “Within the framework of the business program, it was also possible to visit the virtual exhibition space EXPO ONLINE, where intensive discussions were held among participants and speakers in the mobile application. In addition, during one of the days, forum participants were able to attend a virtual tour of the Russian Fine Arts Museum.”
The sustainability of U.S. soybean production and the important role of the U.S. soy industry in global soy supplies and USSEC’s mission were demonstrated during the event and it was clearly appreciated and recognized by the participants of the World Soy Online virtual conference.