USSEC followed the latest exports of U.S. soybeans through the feed chain of several European countries during its EU mission. The mission, which spanned March 14-19, set a goal to reinforce the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP) and demonstrate the U.S. farmer’s commitment to the 28 EU member states, the second largest importer of soybeans in the world. The SSAP was positively benchmarked against the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation’s (FEFAC) Soy Sourcing Guidelines through the independent International Trade Centre (ITC) customized benchmark tool on March 8.
In France, United Soybean Board (USB) and Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) director April Hemmes, USSEC Regional Director – EU/MENA Brent Babb and USSEC consultant Lola Herrera visited the SNIA (French Feed Association) in Paris, and toured the Bretagne area, which is the main feed and meat production area in the country, producing more than nine millions tons of feed.
The first stop in Bretagne was in Ancenis at the headquarters of the cooperative Terrena, where the group had a meeting with purchasing manager Franco Pilato and production manager Vincent Demiot.
Terrena is the second co-op in France and Europe’s tenth. They produce feed, meat, and distribute grains and vegetables. They have 22,000 member farmers and 12,159 employees. Terrena’s eight feed plants produce 1.3 million tons feed.
At the second stop of the trip in Rennes, the delegation met with Eric Beaty, the Economic and Commercial Attaché of the United States Consulate for Western France, to discuss the activity in the area.
The group met Laurent Berthelier of Feed Alliance, in his office near Rennes. This company is Sanders’ purchasing brand; they buy raw materials for their company and also for other companies in France. The group purchases about 700,000 metric tons (MT) of soybean meal yearly, with the origin of the soybean meal depending on the replacement price. They know and give value to U.S. soybean meal. Sanders is one of the companies that uses a different matrix for each soybean meal origin in its feed formula. This company is one of the most important feed producers in France and belongs to the Avril Group, one of the main rapeseed crushers and biodiesel producers in Europe.
The last stop of the Bretagne visit was at Saint Nazaire on the Atlantic coast, where most of France’s soybean meal imports arrive. France imports about 3.3 millions tons of soybean meal a year. The group met with Bunge representatives Yvon Pennors, CEO in France, and Christophe Delafon, sales manager. Bunge has a 28 – 30 percent share of the French market. They also sell soybean meal produced at their crushing plants in Spain, Bilbao and Barcelona. Bunge is a main soybean crusher in Europe, at more than 3.5 million tons.
In Paris, the group had a meeting with SNIA’s sustainability team. SNIA is working with the feed and food chains to develop a protocol for the sustainability of all raw materials used in the industry. They asked questions related to sustainability on U.S. farms, where Ms. Hemmes had the opportunity to talk about sustainable U.S. Soy farming methods.
“My recent visit to France and Romania was filled with great opportunities to tell my story of growing soybeans on my farm,” said Ms. Hemmes. “The SNIA was very interested to hear about how I raise my soybeans sustainably and how the farmers in the U.S. care about saving their soil and maintaining water quality for future generations. I loved talking about sustainability in France and hope my story led them to a better understanding of the SSAP.”
On the second part of the European mission, Ms. Hemmes visited Romanian customers along the U.S. Soy import / supply chain: from Constanta Port unloading facilities, to Bunge Prio Oilseeds Crushing Plant to Combial’s Feed Mill and Bona Avis Broiler farms, located in southern Romania. Establishing contacts and building relationships with customers is key in promoting the benefits of U.S. Soy and demonstrating the commitment of U.S. farmers.
“In Romania it was exciting for me to see the progression of U.S. beans being imported into the country. From the Constanta Port where they were unloaded off the ship, then to the Bunge crushing plant, where the soybeans were transformed into soybean meal, to the feed mill that made the feed compound and finally the chickens that ate the feed. Just to think that the soybeans in the chicken feed could have come from my farm in Iowa!” Ms. Hemmes said.
“These missions are very important as everyone learns from the experience, establishes connections with customers and demonstrates U.S. soy farmers’ commitment. I hope I helped the U.S. soybean cause on my first official trip as a USB board member,” she concluded.