An important Tunisian-Algerian team attended the 7th annual U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange and 16th annual Specialty Grains Conference and Trade Show held jointly by USSEC and Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance (SSGA) in Chicago, Illinois from August 20 to 23. The team was composed of six participants representing five major companies, four from the largest soybeans and soybean meal importers and feed mills in Tunisia, including Manef Lakhdhar & Khaled Ammari from Carthage Grain’s crushing plant; Rafii Zarrouk from Poulina Holding Group’s first poultry integrated group; Nessrine Rekik of Medimix/Alfa Group, along with Nabil Fergani from the Cofeed/Boudiab, Algeria’s largest ingredient importer.
The team was escorted by Dr. Riadh Karma, the USSEC country representative in Tunisia and Algeria.
The event drew among eight hundred attendees from 52 markets, many of which were qualified soybean buyers, to Chicago, a center for U.S. and global agriculture transactions.
A field day (farm, container loading, and elevator visits) and Trade Team Invitational (TTI) meetings represented a great opportunity for discussions and to build positive relationships between buyers and suppliers throughout the week.
A market overview and risk management session was held on the last day of the program after a short visit to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) (Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT)).
The first day featured a field tour for Middle East / North Africa (MENA) customers, allowing attendees to tour an agriculture container loading company as well as a barge elevator in the Chicago area. The TTI offered an excellent opportunity for trading and exporting companies to have open discussions with the buyers from the region. The conference day focused on many topics from the world economy, trade agreements, and U.S. agriculture policy to soy foods and a commodity program session including a world soybean and grain supply and demand outlook; evaluating soybeans from different origins; and communication new technologies in international agricultural trade.
The event ended with a panel discussion on international trade, moderated by USSEC Regional Director – EU/MENA Brent Babb. The discussions with exhibitors at the trade show included those with company representatives involved in commodities logistics trading, imports, containerized shipping, food and feed Ingredients suppliers, soybean promotion associations, and laboratories.
Mr. Babb highlighted the fact that EU/MENA represents a fast growing market for U.S. Soy. Tunisia is particularly still having a high volume (300,000 metrics tons (MT)) of imported U.S. soybeans so far this year. A new Algerian crushing plant, SIM, imported its first 31,000 MT vessel of soybeans from the U.S.
The Tunisian and Algerian customers were very satisfied with the high level of the conference, as well as its excellent organization.