USSEC works to steer India and other growing countries toward a future market for U.S. soy.

China remains the No. 1 importer of U.S. soy. But as worldwide appetites for protein grow, so do checkoff-supported efforts to open new markets and build similar preferences for U.S. soy in other areas, such as India and its neighboring countries.

India is second only to China when it comes to population. It’s also a strong emerging market for U.S. soy – and is rapidly growing its soy use. Half of India’s population is younger than 24, and by 2030 its middle class is expected to be larger than the entire U.S. population. It’s also the second largest aquaculture producer in the world and third in egg production; in fact, India’s feed industry comprises about 90 percent of the soybean meal volume consumed there. To this end, the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), supported by the United Soybean Board (USB) and the American Soybean Association (ASA), began designing programs to build demand for domestic soy (thus sparing markets for U.S. soy in the Asian region) as far back as the 1990s.

“By teaching Indian entrepreneurs the value and utility of soybean meal, we created awareness and increased consumption of U.S. soy in India’s neighboring countries,” recalls Vijay Anand, Deputy Regional Lead -Asia Subcontinent, USSEC. “Today, USSEC programs continue to address market development. As the Indian population becomes younger, wealthier and more urban, we’ve taken the approach of growing businesses that will use U.S. soy in future.”

This includes 244 new poultry and aquaculture businesses in India in the past seven years, which collectively provide 12.21 million metric tons of additional feed milling capacity.

Market Access Creates Obstacles

This rising demand for soybean meal, coupled with a drop in India’s soybean production, is creating more opportunities for U.S. soy. But it’s not without constraints, as the Indian government has a protective policy in place to ban the import of genetically-engineered (GE) materials.

“This year, five container loads of non-GE U.S. soybeans have been imported into India for the first time, which is a promising start,” Anand says. “Testing of U.S. soybeans has convinced the industry about U.S. soy’s quality and effective trade procedures, showing cracks in India’s rigid import and regulatory process.”

Indicative of growing interest in this region, USSEC will conduct its first regional trade exchange event to further create and sustain markets for U.S. soy in this region.

“Feeding the world is so far from just how we can increase yield,” says Matt Stutzman, ASA director and Michigan grower. “There are so many market-access issues that need to be addressed in order to get our commodity to the people who need protein.”

China may import more U.S. soy than any other country, but the soy community is not putting its proverbial eggs in one basket. It’s working to grow and support demand in other populous regions, which is why USSEC and the soy checkoff will continue to develop markets and promote U.S. soy in growing regions such as India. Its neighbors, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal, are among the most populated countries on earth – offering tremendous opportunity for U.S. soy and the protein it provides.