soybean field

USSEC Has High Expectations for Rapidly Growing SEA Region

USSEC’s programs in the Southeast Asia (SEA) region are expanding quickly in order to keep pace with a rapidly growing population and the need to supply high quality protein to a growing middle class.  USSEC SEA Director – Program Management and Communications Dalilah “Dali” Ghazalay visited USSEC’s global headquarters in St. Louis last week and briefed team members about the opportunities and challenges in SEA.
The total population of the SEA region is currently 620 million and U.S. Census Bureau projects this number to swell to 676 million by 2020.  Despite a wide mix of cultures and religions, the region is mostly stable socially and politically with economies that are relatively open, market driven and expected to grow faster than the global economy.  The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) includes the countries of Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam; these countries represent a market with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2.2 trillion.  There is a strong affinity for trading with the U.S., markets are quick to adopt new technologies and management systems, and biotechnology acceptance is not a major issue.
The opportunities for supply and demand in this expanding region are numerous.  SEA already has five countries ranked within the top twenty in global broiler production and five ranked within the top ten in global aquaculture production.  Vietnam and the Philippines are ranked #5 and #7, respectively, in global pork production, and meat consumption in the region is expected to grow 50 percent by 2020.  Total projected imports for U.S. soybeans into SEA in 2014 are 3.13 metric million tons (MMT) and 1.85 MMT for soybean meal, which is a 61.5 percent and 17.5 percent share of the market, respectively.
USSEC will continue to focus on this region by providing trade and technical servicing.  Trade servicing includes such programs as regional buyers conferences like the annual Grain Transportation Conference, the annual SE Asia U.S. Agricultural Co-operators’ Conference, and the annual SE Asia Soy Food Seminar and Trade Show.  Overall, about 1.2 MMT of U.S. agricultural products, with an approximate value of U.S. $432 million, were negotiated and transacted at these events.  These buyers conferences are an important step in building U.S. soy preference and fortifying USSEC’s relationship with the industry.
Risk management workshops and soy supply workshops also fall under trade servicing.  Last year, USSEC SEA conducted six small country-specific and/or customer-specific workshops for key regional bean and meal buyers.  In 2013, USSEC conducted its 3rd U.S. Soy Supply in Myanmar, tapping into a potential market for U.S. soy.  Following a trip to the U.S. under this program, the Thai group imported two vessels of U.S. soybean meal.  Several customers in Myanmar have begun importing 1,000 – 2,000 metric tons (MT) of U.S. soybean meal in containers since this workshop.  U.S. trade teams in both food and feed are also part of USSEC’s trade servicing.  Key decision makers who participated in the 6th Southeast Asia Trade Mission negotiated and transacted over 225,000 MT of U.S. agricultural products, with an approximate value of U.S. $98 million during this mission.
USSEC’s technical servicing includes the SE Asia Feed Technology and Nutrition Workshop, now in its 20th year.  This workshop has become a hallmark event in the region with over 120 technical, quality control and feed operations middle management representatives attending the 2013 event, with some companies regarding the workshop as an annual training event for their employees.  This activity continues to expose customers of U.S. soy to the importance of using high quality feed ingredients and in the process, build preference for U.S. soy.
Aquaculture feeding demonstrations and technical teams are also a part of USSEC SEA’s technical servicing.  Eight demonstrations either wrapped up or are still in progress, including a hatchery demonstration in China, a marine hatchery demonstration in Australia and a marine cage technology demonstration in Europe.  Because SEA is a major region for aquaculture production, these activities have built a growing demand for soy-optimized feeds using U.S. soymeal.
Finally, USSEC provides technical servicing through sponsorship leveraging and soybean analytical work.  Spreading the U.S. quality message through third party technical events such as the Pig Feed Quality Conference and the NEU Nutrition Conference has proven to be an effective strategy to promote U.S. soy.  And working with Massey University on analyzing soybean meal helps differentiate U.S. soybean meal quality parameters from competitive sources of supply.  This study, in its final phase of peer review, will provide scientific data that explains why U.S. soy provides a higher value; USSEC will build a marketing and communications strategy around it to convince the industry’s technical representatives to consider using U.S. soy.
According to Ms. Ghazalay, the USSEC SEA team is more than ready to face these challenges.  She says that this team is a good one:  “We’re like family.  We’re creative, we adapt to change, and we’re not afraid to try new things.”  Another important aspect, she says, is that the team is able to look at both sides.  “We acknowledge our customers’ needs while balancing the needs of USSEC.”  A change in the structure of the SEA team is the recent promotion of Timothy Loh to SEA Regional Director following the retirement of longtime Regional Director John Lindblom.  Ms. Ghazalay states, “Tim makes sure our team has the greatest opportunity to move forward.”