U.S. Soy wins Southeast Asian markets on Quality, Reliability
- General News
Top Southeast Asian importers of U.S. soybean and soybean meal were recognized at the 11th Southeast Asia U.S. Agricultural Co-operators Conference in Danang, Vietnam. The annual three-day event brings together U.S. growers, regional buyers and trade professionals in a unique networking opportunity.
Jatidjan Seky Santo, import manager at PT FKS Multiagro Tbk, has been buying U.S. soybeans for the past 20 years. Although PT FKS Multiagro Tbk counts Brazilian and Argentine soy among its imports, Mr. Jatidjan prefers beans of U.S. origin. “U.S. soybeans are white and this makes them more suitable for food products such as tofu and tempeh (a popular fermented soybean cake that is widely eaten in Indonesia), unlike South American soy which tends to be yellowish,” he says. PT FKS Multiagro Tbk buys about 90 percent of their soybeans from the U.S. and about 10-15 percent from South America to make up for shortfalls during the northern hemisphere seasonal lull.
Another satisfied customer is Phoon Wing Ai, a Singapore-based trading manager at Wilmar Trading. The reliable supply and consistent quality of U.S. soy are the biggest draws for customers of Wilmar, who include food and feed processors. Despite the higher price of U.S. soy, the positive feedback received makes up for any price disadvantage, shares Mr. Phoon, adding that 50 percent of the soy utilized at Wilmar’s crush plants in Malaysia is of U.S. origin. The company also operates extensive oilseed processing facilities across Southeast Asia as well as key Asian markets such as India and China.
Focus on US origin
As the largest importer of soybean meal in the region, the Philippines is a key market for U.S. soy. Terence Uygongco, vice-president of trade and feeds at the Philippine Foremost Milling Corporation, credits the quality and consistency of U.S. soybean meal for his corporation’s shift from multi-source imports and Argentine high-protein meal some 10 to 12 years ago, to concentrating mainly on U.S. origin meal today.
Import volumes of U.S. soymeal have increased by about 5 to 8 percent year-on-year over the past decade for Philippine Foremost, says Mr. Uygongco, with over 60 percent of this going to the domestic swine industry and the rest to poultry and aquafeed. The 1 peso/kg premium that U.S. origin commands over other sources is more than compensated by better livestock performance.
Speaking for one of Southeast Asia’s fastest growing markets, Vietnam, Ryosuke Tsukamoto attributes the positive feedback from customers for his confidence in U.S. soybean meal. The deputy general manager of Sojitz Vietnam is convinced that as Vietnamese customers become increasingly quality-conscious, the prospects for growing the market share for U.S. soymeal in Vietnam will remain positive. Sojitz Vietnam has confirmed 700,000 metric tons (MT) of soybean meal for 2014, of which 250,000 MT are of U.S. origin and the rest from Argentina. For 2015, 8 to 10 vessels or about 900,000 to 120,000 MT of soymeal imports are on the cards for Sojitz, Mr. Tsukamoto states.