This is part of a series of snapshots from around the world with the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC). U.S. Soy has a presence in key markets around the world, and this series aims to showcase the importance of U.S. Soy in these unique markets in 2018 and beyond. USSEC is a partnership of key stakeholders representing soybean producers, commodity shippers, merchandisers, allied agribusinesses and agricultural organizations that help to build a preference for U.S. soybeans and works to optimize the utilization and value of U.S. Soy in international markets by meeting the needs of our stakeholders and global customers. 

A Stabilizing Region Needs Sustainable and Consistent Supply

The MENA region’s economy is stabilizing as conflicts in the area decrease, leading to growth in many industries. Namely, the need for animal feed is increasing as poultry, dairy and aquaculture industries in the area stabilize. Recent investments in the crushing industry in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Lebanon have provided expanded capacity to crush imported soybeans for animal feed. More than 2.1 MMT (77 million bushels) of exported U.S. soy heads to these crushers in MENA.

USSEC works in areas like MENA to build relationships, host events and educate importers about the advantages of using U.S. soy. USSEC is also working to increase commercial applications for U.S. soy in the MENA region. Customers in the region often refer to U.S. soy’s compositional quality as the reason they prefer U.S. soy. “U.S. soy has an edge over other soybean sources in the world and other protein sources because of its high nutritional value, consistent supply, and verified sustainability,” says Fares Hammoudeh, a U.S. soy customer from the Middle East.

Customers in the MENA region also value the steady supply the U.S. soybean farmer provides them. The millions of soybean acres across various geographical regions in the U.S. limits the major impacts from potential adverse weather conditions. Additionally, the infrastructure system delivers U.S. soy from farm to port quickly and efficiently. “Supply of raw materials is very important in our business. U.S. soybeans usually have a steady supply and consistency over other products from other countries,” adds Hammoudeh.

When it comes to sustainability, U.S. soy has specific measures to ensure customers are receiving what they ask for. The U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP) verifies the sustainability performance of U.S. soybeans by tracking the multiple farmer metrics. Egypt, Morocco and Israel used SSAP to verify 667,000 MT of sustainable U.S. soy last year alone.

Animal Agriculture

According to Brent Babb, USSEC Regional Director for Europe and the Middle East, USSEC works in the Middle East in the dairy sector and even more in the aquaculture sector. As with other regions, U.S. soy meal is primarily used for animal feed in the MENA region. The dairy and poultry industries in Saudi Arabia are large markets for valued-added U.S. soybean meal. The aquaculture market also has strong demand in other countries in the region.

Egypt, the native home of the tilapia, remains one of the leading tilapia producers in the world. And tilapia, like other farmed fish, uses a significant amount of soy meal in their diets. “A lot of fish diets take anywhere from 25 percent to 50 percent of the feed as soybeans,” adds Babb. “As this continues to increase, this gives a U.S. soy a great opportunity to provide more feed—and a very good quality feed—to those customers.”

The large aquaculture industry is also an opportunity for In-Pond Raceway Systems (IPRS). IPRS technology implemented in ponds simulate a river flow with constant water movement and was first introduced in China through the International Soy in Aquaculture Program as a part of USSEC investments. This environmentally friendly technology lowers the cost of producing aquaculture. Currently, there are 15,000 hectares of production facilities for IPRS aquaculture under construction. There are additional opportunities for the technology on a smaller scale across North Africa.

The MENA region is just one place in the world where customers are discovering the benefits of using U.S. soy. For more of our Around the World series, click here.