USSEC Holds Training Camp for QSSBs in Mexico
- General News
USSEC held its annual Qualified State Soybean Board (QSSB) training camp in the cities of Monterrey and Guadalajara, Mexico from August 3-8. Every year, USSEC sponsors one attendee from each QSSB to attend the camp and learn about the international marketing efforts of USSEC and the U.S. soy family. This year’s camp highlighted the Mexican market and included government and industry presentations, tours of importing and processing facilities, and a training session on working with Latin American businesses, among other relevant topics.
Team participants received an overview of the Americas market from USSEC Regional Director – Americas Francisco de la Torre and also listened to a presentation from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)’s Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Monterrey.
The group’s itinerary included a stop at the Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM)’s University and Research Center. At ITESM, the team learned about how soy flour is being used to combat Mexico’s growing diabetes epidemic. ITESM researchers have begun to enrich corn tortillas and wheat flour tortillas with soybean flour. Adding a four to six percent mixture of defatted soybean flour (DSF) to corn tortillas and wheat flour has led to concrete results in lowering health risks of multiple diseases. Researchers found that adding six percent of DSF increased the tortilla’s overall protein by 25 to 30 percent. According to Sergio Serna Saldivar, head of the center for protein research development, “Soybeans are a gold mine in neutraceutical compounds that promote health benefits. The results of enhancing the nutritional value of these products are very impressive.” Mr. de la Torre said that adding six percent of DSF to 30 percent of the tortilla market could add up to an additional 13.7 million bushels of soybeans imported into Mexico annually.
Another featured stop on this trip was Molina Farms, which sells fresh tilapia and fingerlings, where the team was able to see firsthand how U.S. soybean meal helps to grow Mexico’s aquaculture sector. To keep profit margins as large as possible, owner Alfredo Molina invests in high quality U.S. soymeal for his rations and employs cutting edge technology. To fill market demand, Mr. Molina is also looking at raising shrimp at his farm. He told the group that his working relationship with USSEC will help him to manage the new enterprise. “It will be trial and error at first but USSEC offers excellent information about feed rations and what other farmers are doing to be successful,” Mr. Molina said.
In addition to these two visits, other stops included RAGASA, which engages in processing, milling, and refining oilseeds to offer various oils to the food and livestock industry and industrial customers; Instant Foods, a company that offers two lines of quick, easily-prepared foods to consumers; a local supermarket in Monterrey; Industrial de Oleaginosas, a soy oil company; and PROAN, one of Mexico’s largest food animal production company.
Activities such as this QSSB training camp are key to USSEC’s continued success in the Americas region. Providing growers with the opportunity to visit other markets is important to help their understanding of how USSEC increases demand for U.S. soy. “Increasing the demand for U.S. soybeans means that we will strengthen the overall industry,” Mr. de la Torre said. “Increasing demand means that they will continue to buy our meal, continue to buy oil and continue to buy ingredients that will keep our crushing plants open.”