Eduardo Leñero Villegas is in charge of sourcing and trading and sustainability commitment for AarhusKarlshamn México SA de CV (AAK) in Mexico and Colombia. He attended the U.S. Soybean Oil Latin American Summit in September 2017, hosted by the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), where he learned details about certifying and labeling U.S. Sustainable Soy. He took a few minutes to share his thoughts on the importance of sustainability to his customers.
Q: Does sustainability matter to your customers?
A: We sell to more than 100 countries. So all this infrastructure, these sustainability programs, are very well accepted. Now, traceability is not an option, it’s an opportunity; an important attribute we need to promote. We have big support in this area. Now that soybeans have a sustainability program, that’s going to be awesome for our customers, and for the products that we promote around the world.
Q: Have you had the opportunity to meet many U.S. soybean farmers? What do they want you to know about the soybeans they grow?
A: I’ve been working in soy for more than 10 years and I’ve always had good communications with them. When it comes to sustainability, U.S. soybean farmers are very trusted. They take steps to show that they’re sustainable because it’s a request from the industry.
Q: Does sustainability factor into your purchasing decisions? How important is certification to back sustainability?
A: Sustainability is a requirement for my company. I like that you (USSEC) are going to certify 100 percent of the harvest of the soybean, so it will be easier to share with our customers that we are taking care to give them the best product. That will help our sales.
We don’t crush, we buy oil. Sustainability certification is going to be good to use in all our branding. It’s going to be easier for all of us. It’s good news. Sustainability certificates are not a value, they’re a requirement. I can add some value to the soybean oil when it’s certified and my officers can communicate that. It’s part of our main promise to our customers. I’m going to share with all my colleagues that U.S. soybeans have this certification.
Q: Do you think customers will be more inclined to buy soybean oil with a “Verified Sustainable” logo?
A: We’ll incorporate this seal because we have to get it to market, the opportunity to know it’s sustainable. It’s good to have. It’s going to be a must. It’s value-added but there’s not a cost involved in production.
Q: Any other thoughts on U.S. Soy being verified sustainable?
A: Some of the certification for some agricultural products involves costs, or you have to pay tax. The way (USSEC) is doing it, it’s going to be a must. Now, we have something to show; something to present. That’s certification and that’s going to make the sale.