U.S. Soy Stakeholders Gather for International Marketing Dialogue
USSEC members, stakeholders, and staff were provided with an opportunity to provide input for future USSEC planning and discuss a number of pertinent industry-related topics during the International Marketing Dialogue (IMD), held in St. Louis on December 4. As USSEC moves into FY 20 planning, feedback from U.S. Soy stakeholders is critical.
At a pre-meeting networking lunch, participants listened to Shruti Gochhwal, managing director for Zappfresh, as she spoke about the growing demand for protein in the Asia Subcontinent.
USSEC chairman Derek Haigwood welcomed attendees, and CEO Jim Sutter and Stakeholder Relations Manager Will McNair provided an overview of recent meetings between USSEC and industry leaders and gave an update on USSEC’s “Figure it Out” year.
Each of USSEC’s regional directors provided an overview of his/her region, including: Xiaoping Zhang, greater China director; Roz Leeck, North Asia; Kevin Roepke, Americas; Tim Loh, Southeast Asia; Brent Babb, European Union (EU) / Middle East North Africa (MENA); and Ed Beaman, Asia Subcontinent.
Attendees next participated in focus area breakout sessions concentrated on market access, animal/aquaculture, and human utilization/oil.
Each group provided a summary of its discussion.
Matt Rekeweg of Dow AgroSciences, chair of market access, reported that sustainability has been an important component to U.S. competitiveness in certain markets. Sustainability is a key differentiation tool and end users are ready for a second level on messaging, possibly incorporating greenhouse gases and forests. The U.S. Soy Sustainability Protocol (SSAP) seal is being used as an effective marketing tool with consumers. Year to date, 46 percent of soybeans are being exported with a certificate as there is a greater demand for transparency and data. Exporters see the value of harmonizing U.S. and Brazilian soybean standards and feel that there is a need to continue to study how the weed seed issue can be addressed. Tom Hammer, president of the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA), will serve as the market access group’s vice chair.
Bob Sinner of SB & B Foods, chair of the food/oil group, reported that the team discussed market access, Canadian soy marketing efforts in Japan, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and Europe; high oleic soybeans; high oleic soybean oil educational programs coordination; and opportunities. Keith Schrader, past chairman of Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC), will serve as the human utilization and oil group’s vice chairman.
Tori Sorenson of Insta-Pro International, current vice chair of the animal utilization and aquaculture group, gave a recap for the animal utilization and aquaculture group. She reported that the U.S. Soy industry should counter Canadian soybean promotional efforts; opportunities in Egypt, India, and other Asia Subcontinent countries; that USSEC should consider the whole value chain when speaking to regulators; embrace non-GMO markets; educate the medical industry about the health aspects of soy; spread message about soy being the preferred plant-based protein and organize trade mission; and get more market intelligence on barriers. Mike Langseth, a director of the North Dakota Soybean Council, will serve as this group’s vice chairman.
The industry utilization groups work together throughout the year.
USSEC vice chairman Monte Peterson provided closing remarks for the IMD.
A networking reception, held at the Old Courthouse, followed this event, providing participants with an opportunity for further one-on-one time with the USSEC regional directors.