USSEC Stakeholders Hear Update from Regional Directors
- General News
USSEC’s annual meeting included a roundtable discussion with each regional director. Stakeholders heard a ten-minute update and summary from each region: Americas, Asian Subcontinent, Greater Europe / Middle East North Africa, North Asia, Southeast Asia and Program Management.
Americas: USSEC Regional Director – Americas Francisco de la Torre said the region has had an 18 percent growth in whole bean exports. Due to the FTA between the U.S. and Colombia, that country has seen even greater increases. The Americas has gained an 11 percent growth in soybean meal exports, with the Dominican Republic boasting huge growth in both meal and soybean oil. There has been a 43 percent uptick in soybean oil exports, with growth in soy flour and soy isolates as well. Mr. de la Torre reported that this region keeps U.S. plants crushing year round and that after March/April, most U.S. Soy exports are to the Americas. He mentioned the significant advantage on processing costs and described the growing tilapia and marine species market in Mexico. Mr. de la Torre remarked that the Americas is a “tremendous market” and said the region is moving from specializing in technical support to being “partners in promotion” with customers.
ASC: USSEC Regional Director – ASC Drew Klein and Deputy Regional Lead – ASC Vijay Anand
reported that 32 million bushels of U.S. Soy was exported to the ASC in this marketing year. USSEC’s strategy in India has focused on a number validated reverse marketing strategy, getting Indians to use the soybean meal produced in India for their own consumption rather than exporting it. For the past two years, USSEC has been using FMD funding instead of checkoff funding. The region itself, said Dr. Klein, is the largest market in the world, potentially on the same growth curve as China in the early 1990s. A USDA/FAS survey, conducted every two years, showed that meat eaters now make up 20 percent of the Indian population, compared to 18 percent two years ago. Dr. Anand reminded stakeholders that although two percent may seem like a small number, that number represents 72 million Indians. 50 percent of the Indian population is below the age of 27 and the younger generation is not as strict with Hindu traditions such as vegetarianism, and fast food chains are doubling. This segment of the population has a rising median income, is more brand conscious and looks for convenience. The number of Indians with a college education, 400 million, surpasses the entire U.S. population. One ag issue is labor, as some of the population shifts to the cities. Dr. Klein said that the industry is making a bet on opportunities in India, as agribusinesses such as Cargill move in. The markets in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh continue to grow for U.S. Soy, as they are not getting product from India.
EU/MENA: USSEC Regional Director – EU/MENA Brent Babb said that 8.3. million tons of U.S. Soy was imported by the EU in FY15, marking a five percent increase over the previous year. Soybean exports to the EU rose by 13-14 percent and soybean meal exports rose 16 percent, as the EU continues its growth in those two areas. Russia, which has banned most U.S. agriculture imports, imported 350,000 tons of U.S. soybeans. Mr. Babb said that 90 percent of Europe’s feed is GM and USSEC continues its efforts on sustainability in this region. An opt-out by EU nations would certainly affect the U.S. Soy industry, and USSEC continues to be vocal and use partners to educate on the topic of biotech. The Dutch feed association NEVEDI approved the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP) earlier in 2015 and Mr. Babb outlined plans for the SSAP to hopefully be approved by the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) by the end of October. He said that USSEC applied for Renewable Energy Directive (RED) certification in April and should hear its analysis this month. Mr. Babb reminded stakeholders that 850,000 metric tons of SSAP-certified U.S. Soy has been shipped to destinations including the Netherlands, China, Morocco and Poland with that number projected to hit 1 million next year. The United Kingdom and the Netherlands are very positive on the issue of biotech, he said. Mr. Babb also described the MENA markets of Egypt and Morocco as “growing well.”
North Asia: USSEC Regional Director – North Asia Paul Burke reminded participants that 30 percent
of all soybeans grown in the U.S. are exported to this market, where the U.S. Soy industry has enjoyed a long presence. The first U.S. Soy office in North Asia opened in Japan in 1956. Mr. Burke said that although the China office is U.S. Soy’s newest office in the region (1982), China continues to be USSEC’s number one market globally. He also talked about what the potential impact of China’s dipping economy could have on the demand for U.S. Soy. Mr. Burke said that the demand for U.S. Soy should continue to grow at a rate between three and five percent yearly for at least the next five years, and it is important to look at growing household incomes vs. GDP growth. China has the most modern and greatest number crush facilities of in the world and is only crushing at 50 percent capacity. Although the long-term growth in China is bullish and will be slower than the past 20 years, the devaluation of their currency comes at a time when soybeans are less expensive.
Southeast Asia: USSEC Regional Director – Southeast Asia Timothy Loh reported that Thailand is picking up its export volumes of both soybean meal and soybeans, with its buying consortium purchasing seven or eight panamax vessels of U.S. Soy in FY15. Vietnam has two crushing plants and Bunge is optimistic that they will crush at capacity. The Philippines is the best, most loyal market for U.S. soybean meal and will pay a premium for U.S. Soy. Indonesia is the best soybean market in the region and uses crude protein as a differentiator. Sustainability is not much of an issue in the SEA region, Mr. Loh said.
Project Management: Chief Program Officer Ed Beaman said that USSEC’s 7th region should be considered a worldwide one. He defined “worldwide” as projects that are carried out in more than one region, determined by the nature and outcomes of a particular project. Mr. Beaman described aquaculture, FTO, biotech, sustainability and market access as worldwide. The project management council was formed about two years ago to track information that can be used at regional levels and by the world headquarters in St. Louis such as contract submission rates.