U.S. Soy provides solutions for a wide range of needs for people around the world. Soy Connext 2023, the global U.S. Soy summit hosted by the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), brought together more than 700 of those who grow, sell and choose U.S. Soy in New York City for two days. U.S. Soy customers from 58 countries, U.S. Soy farmers, related food and agriculture industry professionals, commodity exporters and others discussed today’s global economy and the need for collaborative efforts throughout the supply chain.
“We are dedicated to serving as a global connector,” said Stan Born, a farmer from Lovington, Illinois, who serves as USSEC board chair. “This year’s Soy Connext was a celebration of the vibrant history of global agriculture, and a look at the technological innovations of today and the future. This annual event is one way USSEC brings together participants in the global soybean industry to maintain and grow worldwide collaboration.”
Recurring themes throughout the conference included the need for a nutritious, safe, and affordable global food supply, economic viability for farmers and sustainable solutions. U.S. soybean farmers are viewed as major contributors to ensuring people around the world have access to protein-rich, sustainably sourced nourishment.
“It’s a privilege to meet so many of the people who want to buy our soybeans,” Born said. “The demand for U.S. Soy is strong, and the more we understand our customers’ needs, the more we are inspired to meet them.”
Soy Connext underscored that U.S. Soy is woven into the fabric of the global economy. U.S. soybeans, soybean meal and oil exported to over 80 countries help provide nutrition security for a global population.
The uses for U.S. Soy vary as much as the participants themselves. These snapshots show that though end goals may be unique, customers consistently value working with the U.S. Soy supply chain.
Ensuring Consistency in Soy Milk
Loh Jing Han, business development director for The Soy Company based in Singapore, came to Soy Connext to interact with others in the industry and improve his skills and knowledge. His company provides soy milk as a beverage or ingredient to a variety of companies and restaurants.
“Much like with coffee, the quality of soy milk depends on the quality of the bean,” he said. “Customers expect the same taste every time. The procedures and identity preservation from U.S. farmers ensures consistency. We work with them to select soybean varieties, and they know how to meet our needs even as they improve their efficiency.”
He learned more about the sustainability and innovation of U.S. farmers both at Soy Connext and through visits to Midwest farms and shipping facilities prior to the conference. He gleaned ideas to improve loading and unloading that will help ensure the consistency of the soy milk his company produces from U.S. Soy.
Acquiring Quality Feed Ingredients for the United Arab Emirates
Evgeniya Dudinova, procurement director for commodities at Agthia Group, attended Soy Connext for insight into the U.S. Soy market right before harvest. She buys commodities, including soybean meal and soybean oil, for a major food and feed company in the United Arab Emirates, and she believes this event is the most important one she can attend for livestock feed.
“We have to import everything in the UAE to feed our animals,” she said. “Quality is very important to us. U.S. Soy is number one in quality, and the price is currently favorable given what we receive.”
She focuses on the quality requirements for feed for all livestock, from small to large, including camels. Importing U.S. soybean meal helps achieve that goal.
Improving Poultry Production in Nigeria
Dayo Obasanjo, executive director of marketing and development for Obsanjo Farms in Nigeria, cited three reasons for attending Soy Connext. His second-generation farm has become one of the largest poultry producers in the country, producing turkeys, chickens and eggs. The farm also makes the feed for their birds.
“First, we don’t produce enough soya and maize for our livestock, so we need to get it from somewhere, and I am making contacts,” he said. “Second, it’s an opportunity to learn about the whole process of soybean transactions, from how they grow on U.S. farms to how they are shipped. And third, it’s priceless exposure to other parts of the industry.”
He has seen the value of collaborating with USSEC in other ways. Training opportunities for his team through a Soybean Excellence Center has already improved the farm’s production and profitability. He expects knowledge and connections from Soy Connext to continue helping improve the farm.
Providing Sustainable Soybean Oil in Columbia
Paola Muñoz, CEO of Asograsas, or the Colombian Association of the Edible Fats and Oils Industry, valued connecting with farmers and others in the supply chain. Understanding the whole process of getting soybean oil from U.S. Soy gives confidence that the product is good for human consumption.
“U.S. Soy truly cares about customers,” she said. “Soy Connext allowed me to learn what is coming in the market in the months ahead. We heard from experts we don’t have in Columbia and talked with farmers. It’s a very rich experience.”
Visiting U.S. soybean farmers has convinced her of the sustainability of U.S. Soy. Farmers explained their practices as they opened up their farms. Knowledge gained from these visits and Soy Connext has shown that not all soybeans are the same, and that U.S. Soy is continually improving and growing.
Producing Pigs in China
Yong Liu, president of the trading section for China’s Aonong Group, considered Soy Connext an opportunity to connect with global suppliers and customers. His company focuses on two products, making feed and producing pigs. His group imports a wide variety of feed ingredients, including soybeans.
“I also want to learn about future soy price trends,” he said. “I want to understand the reasons the price of soy changes, because it has been increasing.”
He found Soy Connext inspiring, and sessions included current insights on U.S. Soy production, business disrupters and drivers and global trade. As part of Liu’s trip to the U.S., he also participated in a trade team with stops in Washington, D.C. and the Midwest. Together, the opportunity provided both connections and information to support his business.
Feeding Fish in Vietnam
Duc Vo, chairman of the feed mill for Feed One Company in Vietnam, looks forward to more opportunities to collaborate with U.S. Soy. He purchases soybean meal derived from U.S. soybeans when it is available, and his company plans to do a project with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council related to its feed standard.
“I liked Soy Connext because it helped me get information and network with others in the industry,” he said. “It helps us stay caught up with technology.”
Vo believes U.S. Soy is good for the feed he produces for pangasius, the most common freshwater fish species aquacultured in Vietnam. He also has seen the benefits of the In-Pond Raceway System, or IPRS, promoted by USSEC, for fingerling production.
Delivering Soy Worldwide
For John Buboltz, vice president of oilseed processing for Cargill and USSEC board member, Soy Connext gathers his customers from around the globe in one place. As a soy exporter, he believes that collaboration can help smooth the volatility involved in getting soybeans from one place to another.
“Pulling the whole supply chain together, from the field to the end user, ties it together,” he said. “Nothing compares to personal, face-to-face connections to build long-term business relationships. And Soy Connext helps us get farmer perspectives to our customers.”
While in New York City, Buboltz and his team spent time with customers from many of the places they operate around the world. The conversations and shared learnings, including a session focused on the future of supply chains, will help smooth the process of getting the U.S. Soy products to those relying on them.