U.S. soybean farmers rely on exports. In fact, 59 percent of last year’s crop was exported to international markets. Growing new markets to ensure the demand for U.S. soy stays strong is important to the soy checkoff and its international sales partner, the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC). Accomplishing this requires watching global trends to see where the next big opportunity is for U.S. soy.
One recent trend is the spike in consumer taste for seafood. The aquaculture industry needs to double its output by 2030 to meet projected demand, according to The World Bank. One aquaculture market USSEC has its eye on is Egypt. Aqauculture production in Egypt grew a staggering 700 percent from 1998 to 2013 — from 139,000 metric tons (MT) to 1,098,000 MT. Egypt is the third largest tilapia-producing nation after China and Indonesia, and aquafeed demand is approaching two million metric tons (MMT), with soy demand of 750,000 MT.
To ensure U.S. soy demand grows with aquaculture production in Egypt, USSEC has initiated several marketing tactics abroad. These tactics include workshops where USSEC representatives discuss feed formulations and visit feed mills around the country to speak with formulators about sourcing the best ingredients, one of which is often U.S. soy.
This year, USSEC will focus on educating audiences in Egypt about in-pond raceway technology applications, which are systems constructed in existing freshwater ponds that simulate a river. This construction allows water to flow continuously and results in better farm and health management, through the recycling of water and the removal of waste for use in the production of crops. These efforts will help to grow Egypt’s aquaculture industry sustainably and increase its demand for U.S. soy.
Why does this matter to U.S. soybean farmers? Many fish can be fed rations containing U.S. soybean meal as a more sustainable alternative to fish-based feeds. Soy is an ideal protein replacement for farm-raised fish and a mainstream ingredient in nearly all aquafeeds.
“Aquaculture is the biggest growth opportunity for using soybean meal in rations, in my opinion,” says Laura Foell, former USSEC chair and soybean farmer from Schaller, Iowa. “By teaching the advantages of fish farming, and using U.S. soy as part of a fish diet, U.S. soybean farmers are able to provide food to feed a hungry world.”