soybean field

USSEC Hosts Annual U.S. Soy Outlook Conferences in North Asia

USSEC hosted its annual U.S. Soy Outlook Conferences on the week of December 9 in Taiwan, Japan and China and on December 6 in Korea. USSEC’s goals for conference participants were to help them gain access to critical information about U.S. soy; to assist them in networking with industry principals; and to help them explore real business opportunities.  The conferences also give attendees critical information about U.S. crop quality and market parameters and provide them with opportunities to interact with grower leaders.

The North Asia market is extremely important to the mission of the U.S. soy family, says USSEC Director-North Asia Region, Paul Burke.  “70% of U.S. soybean exports go to this region, which is also sometimes the number one market for U.S. soybean oil.  It’s a growing market with a very good market share, and we have a long term history there with our very loyal buyers, especially in Japan, Taiwan and Korea,” stated Mr. Burke.

USSEC Country Director-Korea Say Young Jo welcomes participants to the Seoul conference
USSEC Country Director-Korea Say Young Jo welcomes participants to the Seoul conference

USSEC Korea hosted the first 2013 U.S. Soy Outlook Conference on December 6 in Seoul.  The main objectives of the conference were to provide the most updated and timely information on new crop soybeans and a market outlook to the local soybean crushing, feed milling and soyfood processing industries.  Topics discussed at the conference were the 2013 U.S. soy crop quality, Identity Preserved (IP) delivery via bulk, U.S. sustainability and the global market outlook for oilseeds, oils and oilmeals.  Paul Burke, USSEC North Asia Regional Director, talked to participants about soybean quality survey results and U.S. sustainability.  Because the free trade agreement import quota between Korea and the U.S. for IP food grade soybeans increased to 25,000 metric tons (MT) in 2014 from 20,000 MT in 2013, Korea’s soyfood processing industries showed strong interest in new crop information, discussing it with staffs from U.S. food bean exporters DeLong and SunOpta.  Approximately 40 purchasing and research and development staff from the target groups attended the conference, including the chairman of Korea Bean Sprouts Association and the president of Busan & Gyeongnam Tofu Cooperative.

The Chinese market has been involved with U.S. soy for over 30 years, according to Xiaoping Zhang, USSEC Country Director-China, and remains the largest export market for U.S. soy, with one of every four rows of soybeans grown in America being exported to China.  “With New Year’s celebrations about 50 days away, demand for U.S. soy rises this time of year and there has already been a strong demand since September,” said Mr. Zhang.
USSEC staff and grower leaders who visited Shanghai toured the Shanghai Pudong Dongfang Breeding Swine Farm and the Shanghai Liangyou new port facility and crushing plant on December 9.  Shanghai Dongfang Swine Farm is the largest supplier of hogs to the Shanghai market, providing over 100,000 heads annually for local consumption.  The farm consumes approximately 9000 metric tons of soybean meal annually and the farm’s owner has a long relationship with USSEC, supporting technical programs and participating in USSEC seminars and intensive swine production trainings, in addition to receiving visitors from the U.S. soy industry.  Shanghai Liangyou is the only large scale crusher in Shanghai, importing over 50,000 metric tons of soybeans in 2013, with over 50% of those beans coming from the U.S.  This crusher has had a close partnership with USSEC from the early 1990s as an active buyer of U.S. soy along with being a key local USSEC sponsor, hosting numerous delegations at their plant, including U.S. farmers, technical / marketing experts and USDA officials, helping U.S. soy delegations to better understand the local soybean industry.
On December 10, the Shanghai conference opened with objectives including introducing the current year of the U.S. soybean production summary, providing a future planting outlook and giving a quality survey report on the 2013 crop.  USSEC CEO Jim Sutter, together with Mr. Zhang, provided participants with information on these topics, along with discussions pertaining to the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol, the USDA WASDE Report, the Chinese Agricultural Information Releasing System, and global oilseeds market outlooks.  According to Kevin Hoyer, American Soybean Association (ASA) Vice President, participants of the Shanghai outlook conference were “an eager crowd hungry for more information on the quality of the year’s soybean crop.”
USSEC’s North Asia Operational Workshop, held on December 11 and 12, provided the USSEC team with an opportunity to discuss its operations and strategy in the North Asia region.
Japan is U.S. soy’s third largest market and is one of its most important high value markets.  The USSEC Japan office was established as the first overseas market over half a century ago.
Mitsuyuki Nishimura, USSEC Country Director-Japan, welcomed participants to the 29th Japan Soybean Outlook Conference at the Tokyo American Club.  Grower leader Nancy Kavazanjian, United Soybean Board (USB) Director, spoke about the 2013 U.S. production year summary, future planting outlook and sustainability.  Ms. Kavazanjian represented the U.S. soy industry at two conferences in Japan, the first focusing on crush for livestock/animal feed and the second focusing on food grade soybeans.  She spoke on the topic of “Why I Grow Non-GMO Soybeans” on the second day of the conference.  This subject is especially pertinent and timely as the Japanese market is sensitive to genetically modified crops and the audience was interested in learning more about the sustainability standard.   Drew Klein, USSEC Director of International Program Strategy, followed up on the topic of non-GMO soybeans by discussing the U.S. supply and demand of non-GMO soybean supply and its future direction.
More than 330 crushers, feed millers, soyfood processors and traders participated in the 2013 Tokyo event.  Four USSEC member organizations participated by exhibiting their products to attendees.

Participants at the USSEC Soy Outlook Conference in Taipei, Taiwan
Participants at the USSEC Soy Outlook Conference in Taipei, Taiwan

In 2012, Taiwan was the seventh largest market for U.S. agricultural products, the sixth largest market for U.S. soy, and one of the world’s largest consumers of U.S. agricultural products on a per capita basis.  Taiwan has consistently imported over $3.5 billion of U.S. farm products annually.
Laura Foell, Secretary of USSEC Board of Directors and USB Director, attended the conference in Taipei, Taiwan, together with USSEC Director of International Program Management Ed Beaman.  Ms. Foell met with one of the largest soybean crushers in the country. “They have 52 percent of the crush business in the country,” she said.
Ms. Foell, along with USSEC Country Director-Taiwan Anthony Thang, provided opening remarks.  Ms. Foell gave a 2013 production year summary, discussed the outlook of future planting, and spoke about sustainability and international certification.  Mr. Beaman spoke to participants about the results of the 2013 U.S. soybean quality.  Other topics presented to attendees included a projection of 2014 global oilseed supply and demand and U.S. containerized soybean supplies.