Global Food Forum

Making Soy Reign Supreme

Being crowned market leader of any product category is rarely the result of simply possessing specific attributes.

Consumer demand ultimately drives success, whether selling sustainable soybeans or mass-produced microchips.

Faster and smaller — that’s what consumers continually want from technology. For decades, Intel has provided the chips to make that happen. But consumers don’t buy chips; they purchase computers, phones and other finished products.

That is, until “Intel Inside” changed their mindset. Intel became a component of what consumers looked for when purchasing technology.

Apple, struggling to make a comeback in the early 2000s and lagging in sales, wanted to provide consumers with confidence in its products. So Apple called on Intel to provide the chips — and its reputation — to meet consumers’ demand for speed and reliability. Apple focused on design and let Intel carry the processing speed. Over the next decade, Apple’s net profit increased from breaking even to more than $53 billion in 2015.

Together, Intel and Apple anticipated consumer demand and attained undeniable success.

You can be a part of the next big power partnership between processors and U.S. soybean farmers.

The U.S. soy industry has a reputation for leading conservation and sustainability practices. The industry anticipated consumers’ desire to know what’s inside the products they buy and where the raw materials originate.

U.S soybean farmers can be processors’ Intel, providing the sustainability, freeing you up to satisfy your customers’ other needs.

WHAT DO THEY WANT?

Customers demand sustainability. People recognize the planet’s limited resources and growing population. And a growing population of consumers is demanding sustainable sourcing in a host of consumer goods from food to skin care — that includes the sources of soy.

According to Megan Weidner, the vice president of corporate responsibility and sustainability for Bunge, North America, consumers are asking food producers to demonstrate its sustainability practices.

“Consumers have keen interest in wanting to know where their food is coming from, how it’s produced and what are the environmental and social impacts,” says Weidner.

Those food producers and ag nutritionists in turn ask Bunge to provide sustainably produced ingredients.

“Sustainability has become a key piece of our business model,” Weidner reports.

According to Weidner, Bunge’s corporate board has set direction for the company based on several studies over the last few years. “The research has found that organizations that include sustainability and corporate social responsibility — both environmental and social stewardship — into their mission and vision are the corporations that outperform,” she says.

SUSTAINABILITY ON THE INSIDE

And Bunge is in good company. In recent years, the movement toward sustainable sourcing among businesses has been gathering momentum. Driven by consumer demand, sustainability is now a strategic pillar in several businesses.

Many of the large food and food industry companies are looking through their entire supply chain to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, McDonald’s recently announced a sustainability goal of a 150 million metric ton reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To achieve that goal — which is equal to removing the emissions of 32 million cars for a year — the entire supply chain must participate.

Many firms now look to sustainable agricultural production, such as U.S. soybeans, as an asset in sourcing products to help contribute to corporate social responsibility goals.

McDonald’s recently announced a sustainability goal of a 150 million metric ton reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To achieve that goal — which is equal to removing the emissions of 32 million cars for a year — the entire supply chain must participate.

This demand for sustainable practices extends far beyond U.S. borders. Global Processing, Inc.’s chief strategic ambassador Rob Prather agrees.

“We send non-GMO soybeans to our customers, primarily in Japan and Southeast Asia, who have to answer to their customers, the end-use consumer,” says Prather. “If the final consumer knows that the product is sustainably sourced, they feel more confident in their purchase decision.”

Sustainability is relatively new to the conversation along the supply chain. This change, according to Prather, has been fueled by younger buyers who are more interested in source materials.

Weidner also notes that communication about sustainability has increased in recent years. “Whether it’s locally grown, organic or conventional — we have to be able to supply those consumer needs of a growing population using what we have,” she says.

The message from the soy value chain reminds people of the long-standing story of sustainability of U.S. soy. Just as Apple used Intel’s long history of speed and reliability to meet consumer demand, processors can use U.S. soy’s enduring tradition of sustainability to give consumers what they are asking for.

A NEW WORD FOR AN OLD PRACTICE

Since before George Washington Carver discovered soybeans’ benefits to the soil, producing crops sustainably has been a way of life for American farmers and producers.

For generations, U.S. soy has adopted and innovated methods to conserve and protect the land, water and air. And you as processors can promote these long-held practices to an audience that is increasingly paying attention.

“As producers, we can showcase to our customers how farmers implement the production practices that make sustainability possible,” Weidner emphasizes.

Sustainability is the word that describes what the industry has being doing all along. In the last 30 years, sustainability vocabulary has grown exponentially. Everyone is talking about it. From what’s happening on the farm through the entire production process, the conversations around sustainability bring transparency to consumers. And just like Intel is the household name for the fastest processors, U.S. soy sets the standard for sustainability and innovation.

Weidner believes the sustainability efforts and promotion by the soybean industry is successful because organizations like the United Soybean Board (USB) and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) work to promote sustainable practices along the entire supply chain.

“Soybean production in the U.S. is premier when you’re looking at other possible supply chains,” says Weidner. Because U.S soy is sustainably produced — and always has been — there is world- wide demand for U.S. product, positioning U.S. soy as the leader.

NO ONE ELSE DOES IT BETTER

Apple used more than just Intel’s processors in laptops and iPhones. They also used Intel’s name as a marketing tool, lending credibility to its products.

Sustainability efforts by the U.S. soy value chain provide you with a primary marketing advantage, both domestically and internationally. USSEC works to promote that competitive advantage.

Processors and end users are noticing.

“USSEC’s sustainability marketing efforts on the export side are working,” Prather says. “I noticed an increased interest during my latest trip to Korea. Those buyers are asking questions about our sustainable practices.”

It’s one thing to say U.S. soy is sustainable. It’s another to verify it. One of the key assets within the U.S. soybean industry is the U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP).

Created by USB, USSEC and the American Soybean Association, the SSAP verifies the sustainability

of U.S. soybeans by outlining the practices, rules and regulations U.S. soybean farmers already follow. As more buyers of U.S. soybeans request documentation, this verification becomes even more important.

Other supply chains and countries have sustainability efforts, but none have the history and the breadth that the SSAP covers. “No one else can say they’ve got soybeans produced on the sustainable level practiced by U.S. farmers. It does give U.S. soy an advantage,” says Prather.

According to Prather, the SSAP is essential to Global Processing’s marketing efforts. By logging the sustainable shipment of U.S. soy through the SSAP, the protocol system creates a certificate of sustainability and U.S. origin. Then the buyer can use that certificate as a marketing tool to customers who are demanding sustainable sourcing.

Just like Intel is the household name for the fastest processors, U.S. soy sets the standard for sustainability and innovation.

“The biggest advantage for everyone is that the certificate comes directly from the protocol system and not from me,” Prather says. “It comes from a respected third party.”

Bunge also uses the SSAP to its advantage. Weidner says, “We take the operations that follow the SSAP and give them a voice within our practices.” By highlighting and promoting the current soybean sources that follow the protocol, Bunge can showcase to buyers that its operation is committed to sustainability.

U.S. SOY MAKES YOU COMPETITIVE

Like Intel’s name did for Apple, U.S soy’s sustainable practices provide you with a distinct and desirable marketing advantage because customers have confidence about what’s inside.

Ask your customers about their sustainability practices, goals and objectives. Encourage discussion about how sustainable U.S. soy can benefit their value proposition. Partner with your soybean farmers by sharing your sustainability goals and your customers’ needs.

Sustainability keeps U.S. soy at the top of the market as more end users look for these practices throughout the supply chain. A position of sustainability creates market demand from consumers in this country and around the world.

Sustainability practices benefit the entire supply chain from farmer to end consumer, keeping U.S. soy reliably available — and the market leader — to future generations, just as it has been for decades.

USB Staff Writer
USB Staff Writer

Staff Writer

United Soybean Board

United Soybean Board’s 78 volunteer farmer-directors work on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers to achieve maximum value for their soy checkoff investments. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds in programs and partnerships to drive soybean innovation beyond the bushel and increase preference for U.S. soy. That preference is based on U.S. soybean meal and oil quality and the sustainability of U.S. soybean farmers.