South Dakota Grower Leaders Travel to Spain for Trade, Education Mission
- General News
South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (SDSRPC) directors, including USSEC board member Bob Metz, traveled to Europe on a trade and educational mission in mid-March. Because the European Union (EU) is a growing market with great potential for U.S. soybeans, the purpose of the trip was to open conversation about the high quality of U.S. Soy. The EU is the world’s second largest importer of soybeans at 12.8 million metric tons (MMT).
During their time in Spain, the South Dakota team met with the Guissona Food Group. The Guissona Food Group, located in the town of Guissona about 90 minutes northwest of Barcelona, is a fully vertically integrated cooperative that boasts the ability to take products from field to table in just 24 hours. From growing crops to selling products in their grocery stores, the Guissona Food Group is one of the largest ag businesses in Spain with 9 feed factories producing about 1.2 million tons of feed each year to feed 1.7 million pigs and 43 million broiler chickens annually. Guissona has 4000 employees, 12,000 cooperative members, 4000 shareholders, 13,000 agriculture customers, 1.2 million customers for their Bon Area grocery stores, and 8000 meat distribution centers, selling 780 million pounds of food annually with 80 percent of that going to their own Bon Area grocery stores. The group processes 1.3 million hams per year.
The South Dakota team was surprised to hear that the Guissona Food Group is currently only feeding about 10 percent soy in their diets, translating into an opportunity for U.S. Soy. Because Guissona produces little of their own soy needs, they were interested in learning more about U.S. Soy’s favorable essential amino acid profile.
Following the meeting with company officials, U.S. soybean farmers toured one of the group’s processing plants, capable of processing 100,000 chickens per day and producing 10,000 packages of chicken per hour. They also process 5000 pigs per day. The Guissona Food Group and the Bon Area stores specialize in serrano hams, which are dry-aged at the facility for two years before they are sold.
The visit and tour of the Guissona Food Group was a learning opportunity for the U.S. Soy growers as well as company representatives, but most importantly, the U.S. farmers built a relationship and started a dialogue with one of Spain’s largest feed producers.