U.S. Soy Stakeholders Gather in Chicago for U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange and Specialty Grains Conference and Trade Show
U.S. soy stakeholders traveled to Chicago last week for the seventh annual U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange and the 16th annual Specialty Grains Conference and Trade Show. The jointly held USSEC and Specialty Soya & Grains Alliance (SSGA) event took place at the Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue from August 20 to 22.
Attendees gathered on the evening of August 20 for the opening networking reception where new acquaintances were made and old relationships were renewed.
The annual Trade Team Invitational (TTI), USSEC’s annual buyer/seller speed meeting, helps to build personal relationships between buyers and sellers. Exporters are encouraged to sign up in advance to meet directly with trade teams, which are broken up by country and buyer type. The buyers and sellers met privately on August 21. Exporters who have previously signed up to meet with these teams meet with and privately present to buyers for 30 minutes. These brief meetings help to quickly connect exporters to qualified international buyers.
Nearly 800 soy and grain industry leaders, buyers, and suppliers from more than 50 countries attended this year’s event. The conference featured opportunities for exporters and buyers to connect and attend sessions covering market dynamics, African swine fever, and more.
On August 23, the conference kicked off with an early riser session, “How MAP Opportunities Can Help Put Money Back In Your Pocket.” This session, featuring Food Export Midwest’s Branded Program Manager Molly Burns, explored opportunities that can assist exporters, importers, and processors of U.S. Soy or specialty grains with their marketing plans and efforts.
USSEC Chairman Derek Haigwood gave opening remarks before introducing keynote speaker Ted McKinney, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. Mr. McKinney reminded buyers to keep in mind the four elements of the U.S. Soy Advantage: exceptional composition, consistent supply, sustainable farming, and innovation beyond the bushel when making purchasing decisions.
Dan Basse, President of AgResource Company, provided a World Agriculture Supply & Demand report and insights, expertly analyzing the current global soy and grain stocks, demand, and forecasts for all major markets worldwide, followed by “Communications Evolution: Adapting to Today’s Global Communication Challenges,” presented by Marjorie Benzkofer, Chief Strategy Officer at FleishmanHillard, which explored how industry professionals adapt to and have revolutionized marketing and policy in an ever-changing climate of social media and consumer demands. Pradnya Joshi, Editor, Trade & Agriculture at Politico, and Mary Lovely, Ph.D., Peterson Institute of International Economics at Syracuse University discussed market barriers, both tariff and non-tariff, having an impact on global trade, plus the latest insights on global trade negotiations.
After lunch, concurrent breakout sessions for USSEC and SSGA took place. Richard Fritz of Global AgriTrends took a look ahead at animal agriculture and how African Swine Fever is impacting global commodity trade, while SSGA featured a panel presentation of U.S. food soy exporters examining the 2019 crop production outlook for four regional areas across the U.S. Moderator Gary Williams of United Grain Corp. introduced panelists Austin DeLong of Delong Inc.; Sheila Sauve of Healthy Food Ingredients; Chase Holoubek of Scoular; and Clarkson Grain’s Michael Youmans.
In the next round of breakouts, the University of Minnesota’s Dr. Samuel Baidoo reviewed USSEC resources and studies outlining the advantages of U.S. soybean meal’s essential amino acid profiles and digestibility, while Cameron Bowie, Senior VP – Hapag-Lloyd (America) LLC; Allen Clifford, Executive Vice President – Mediterranean Shipping Company; and Paul Lesnefsky, Senior Account Executive – Ocean Network Express spoke about global container shipping issues and challenges, focusing on moving commodity, soy, and specialty grains, technical efficiencies, trade influence, and the future of shipping.
The penultimate round of breakout sessions looked at Chicago as a global trading center for soy and commodities, presented by CME Group’s Fred Seamon, paired with an introduction to SSGA and how it benefits global food manufacturers and U.S. suppliers, presented by SSGA Executive Director Eric Wenberg; Curt Petrich, HC Intl. Inc. & Chairman, SSGA; Will McNair, Director Oil & Human Protein, USSEC; Robert Sinner, SB&B Foods Inc. Vice Chair, SSGA; and Bruce Abbe, Strategic Advisor, SSGA.
The final round of breakout sessions included a panel discussion moderated by USSEC Regional Director – EU/MENA Brent Babb and featuring USSEC panelists Henk Flipsen, Director – Nevedi; Mr. Haigwood; and Marcello Veronesi, President, Assalzoo discussing the EU’s sustainability goals and demands and how U.S. Soy is helping to meet its industries’ needs. The last SSGA breakout provided an in-depth look at market opportunities emerging in the growing Southeast Asia, Asian Subcontinent, and North Asia markets and featured Thomas Vierhile of Innova Marketing Insights; Tim Loh, USSEC Regional Director – Southeast Asia; and Rosalind Leeck, USSEC Regional Director – North Asia, moderated by Mr. Sinner.
In their closing remarks, USSEC CEO Jim Sutter and Mr. Wenberg thanked attendees for their participation.