News: QSSB mission
As part of its larger mission to the Asia Subcontinent (ASC), the QSSB team visited Sri Lanka on July 30 and 31, where they participated in an industry meeting and visited a feed mill, layer farms, broiler farms, and chicken outlets.
The delegation attended the “Lanka – U.S. Soy Alliance.” This networking meeting helped the U.S. Soy representatives to interact with and learn about the Sri Lankan industry. About 55 participants attended the meeting where two leading industry members discussed the Sri Lankan industry’s progress and growth.
At the meeting, USSEC Country Representative – Sri Lanka Athula Mahagamage and the Sri Lankan industry representatives provided an overview on the Sri Lankan market for U.S. Soy, animal feed operations, consumption patterns, possible applications for soy in human food, and future growth opportunities.
USSEC CEO Jim Sutter emphasized and assured USSEC’s and the U.S. Soy industry’s support to the Sri Lankan industry and discussed USSEC’s activities worldwide. He compared Sri Lanka’s market to India’s and said that Iowa is 2.2 times the size of Sri Lanka. He continued to compare dry, value-added chicken versus the wet market (packaged versus birds that slaughtered on the spot. He said that the U.S. currently has a 100 percent market share in Sri Lanka.
Participants received the opportunity to know more about Sri Lankan opportunities and potential through one-on-one discussions over dinner.
The team also visited a feed mill, Gold Coin Feeds, where they saw stocks of U.S soybean meal, while a visit to a modern broiler farm indicated growth in the poultry industry. The trip to the farm also allowed the team to observe Sri Lanka’s countryside.
At the broiler operation, the delegation learned that each year, it processes 30,000 birds per shed per cycle of 36 days when they are harvested at 4.5 pounds. The 6-8 sheds are modernand environmentally controlled. The mortality rate is 2 percent and it uses no antibiotics and performs no debeaking.
By contrasting many small “mom and pop” grocery stores, the delegation had the opportunity to compare modern retailing and customer preferences to various food and grocery products. For example, the Pussala Meat shop demonstrated Sri Lanka’s chicken processing and retailing. 95 percent of the country’s poultry industry relies on processed, chilled and/or frozen chicken.
The QSSB team undertook 5 different activities in a span of 28 hours in Sri Lanka.
USSEC’s QSSB mission continued in Kolkata, India, on August 1 and 2.
Ten Bangladeshi industry members, including Moshiur Rehman, the managing director of the Paragon Group, traveled to the city of Kolkata, near the border of Bangladesh, to meet the delegation. Five Indian crushers / soy traders also met the QSSB team and learned about developments taking place in Bangladesh.
The USSEC mission visited Hi-Tech feed mill, a new broiler feed mill that produces 96,000 MT per year and has plans to diversify into aquaculture feed. During the briefing at the mill, the delegation learned about poultry growth and consumer demand, but also noted that there is plenty of room for growth as the per capita consumption of chicken in India is still very low.
About 33 participants attended the “Bangla-U.S Soy Alliance” in Kolkata. This was an exclusive session for the QSSBs to interact with the Bangladeshi industry. There will soon be four crush plants and several full fat soybean meal (FFSBM) production units, which will add to whole bean consumption in Bangladesh.
Mr. Rehman stressed that it was more important to conduct in-country activities to demonstrate technologies to the Bangladeshi people rather than conduct trips to the U.S. or the ASC region, noting that the scope of exposure is limited on the latter while in-country demonstrations and activities can be accessed by more people. He noted that aquaculture demonstrations were of immediate requirement.
Kazi Hassan, a key industry leader managing the Kazi group, gave his positive impressions on U.S. Soy and mentioned that his group would need some assistance or recommendations on how to improve their posts’ infrastructure. At the moment, he observed that there is too much handling, as large vessels cannot access the port. Increased tax on soybean meal imports in Bangladesh will make meal costlier and this could shift imports of meal to India.
Following the “Bangla – U.S. Soy Alliance” meeting, the group attended the evening networking reception, which was attended by the Bangladeshi industry members, QSSBs, USSEC, the U.S Consulate in Kolkata, and the East Indian industry representatives. The three-hour interactions helped the QSSB team to better understand Bangladeshi requirements as well as the East Indian industry. A total of 58 members attended the networking event.
The QSSB team participated in 3 impactful activities in 14 hours’ time in Kolkata.
The USSEC mission to the ASC wrapped up with a visit to Delhi, India from August 3 – 5.
The QSSB team attended a reception hosted by Scott Sindelar, Minister Counselor of Agricultural Affairs, Foreign Agriculture Services (FAS) / U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Embassy of the United States, New Delhi at his residence.
USSEC Deputy Regional Director – ASC Vijay Anand said, “It was an honor for the Indian industry members to receive this invitation from the U.S Embassy.”
About 65 participants attended the event, including ADM, Cargill, Poultry Federation of India, U.S. Grains Council (USGC), and U.S food grade soybean importers. These interactions helped the QSSB team obtain perspectives from different industry stakeholders.
Mr. Sindelar addressed the gathering, saying that USSEC was the most important U.S. cooperator and its continued activities and efforts have paid returns to U.S. agriculture.
USSEC Stakeholder Relations Manager Will McNair briefed attendees on the objectives of the QSSB mission to the ASC.
In Delhi, the team was taken to McDonalds for lunch, which provided them an insight on changing food preferences of customers, trends with the young population in India, and price comparisons.
A trip through the countryside was a great learning experience as participants observed Indian agricultural systems. The summer crop is in progress and they were able to witness many activities including brick making and rice farming. Passing through Agra, which is an overgrown village, allowed them to compare life in a metro city in India versus a small town.
On the last day of the mission, Mr. Sindelar and his team welcomed the group to the embassy, and they put together a presentation on the USDA’s perspectives on the Indian market. This activity was very helpful for the QSSB team to make their assessments. Mr. Sindelar stressed that it pays to be patient to be able to derive benefits from the Indian market and that they have seen success in the past.
USSEC made two presentations to the QSSB group as the final activity during the mission. One of the presentations focused on the market assessment recently put together for the ASC region, which contained information on demographics; regional strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT); current utilization; and future forecasts. It also had data on U.S Soy imports into the region. The second presentation centered on ASC’s program management, mission and goals; consultants’ geographic positioning and roles they perform; return on investment (ROI) for dollars invested; how funds are distributed against projects/activities; and unified export strategy (UES), among other topics. This was a two hour long session that helped tie up all that was observed at the market place during the seven-day mission.
The Iowa group was especially glad to note that the USDA has taken initiatives to accompany an Indian government delegation to the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa on August 31 and September 1. Drew Klein, Regional Representative – ASC will accompany the team once they reach the U.S, and Santosh Singh from the U.S. embassy will accompany them from India.
In Delhi, the QSSB team went through 6 different activities during a two and a half day span.
“With each of these trade visits, I am amazed at the breadth and depth of the technical services. They are building relationships by helping people with their businesses, not just moving soybeans. Helping companies builds loyalty for U.S. soybeans.”
-Kathy Maurer, Financial and International Marketing Director, Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee
“I’m very excited to see that the reverse marketing that USSEC initiated long ago is working exactly how it was planned. It’s not possible to really have an idea of what is going on in India without seeing it firsthand. We have changed the mindset of those people and we will continue to move the needle there.”
-Park Wells, Executive Director, Tennessee Soybean Promotion Council
“The [Indian] government could really affect change for its people if they would remove barriers such inadequate roads and if they would take advantage of farming technologies that are available. The country and its people have such potential.”
-Ken Moore, Grower, Tennessee
“Sri Lanka presents such immediate potential. They want their farmers to be progressive and they want to import U.S. Soy. They understand the U.S. Soy advantage. They have a much more sophisticated marketing and processing system than India does. In Bangladesh, based on the comments that we heard, they recognize the quality of U.S. Soy but still make purchasing decisions wholly on price.”
-Tony Stafford, Director of Business Development and New Markets, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council
“The meetings at the U.S. Embassy really gave me a great understanding of all of the forces that work together to move my soy. USSEC and USDA and FAS … it’s so important to have these boots on the ground. When Jonn (Slette), the senior attaché, emphasized the great value of our visits to the market, it really drove home how important these interpersonal relationships are.”
-Mike Bellar, Grower, Kansas
“Feeding the world is so far from just how we can increase yield. There are so many market access issues that need to be addressed in order to get our commodity to the people that need protein.”
-Matt Stutzman, ASA Director and Grower, Michigan