Being in demand is a good thing, and that’s exactly where U.S. Soy finds itself. Over the last few decades, global populations have expanded, incomes have risen and diets have shifted to include food items like meat and other high- value agriculture products.
Just how much has demand surged during this period? An impressive 225 percent, according to Jim Sutter, the Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Soybean Export Council, or USSEC. USSEC, the international marketing arm of the soy checkoff program, works in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build preference for U.S. soybeans overseas, which is where most of this increase in demand has occurred.
The U.S. is the second leading exporter of soybeans in the world. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. exported a record 2.6 billion bushels of U.S. soy and soy product, valued at $28 billion, to overseas markets last year.
“But record soybean production is no longer enough to ensure markets for U.S. Soy,” says Sutter. “Soy production is growing worldwide, and end users have choices.”
Indeed, U.S. soybean producers are not the only ones fighting for a bigger piece of the expanding global soybean pie. Brazil and Argentina are formidable competitors and have aggressively boosted their soybean production capabilities to tap into some of these growing markets that the U.S. also serves.
“To position the U.S. as the preferred supplier, we need to differentiate our products and farming practices to stand out among the competition,” adds Sutter. He describes U.S. Soy’s competitive advantage as a combination of three critical factors: 1) superior sustainable farming practices; 2) exceptional soybean composition; and 3) consistent and reliable supply.
The U.S. Soy sustainability story is a great one. From soil health to water management, when compared with competitors, the sustainable practices used by U.S. soybean farmers are second to none. And systems like the U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP) allow U.S. soybean farmers to show their sustainability metrics of production to customers.
U.S. soybeans have compositional quality attributes the competition is lacking. Specifically, our soybeans have a strong meal nutritional package (protein, amino acids and energy) and elite oil functionality and performance.
Finally, the U.S. Soy industry is unmatched when it comes to delivering a consistent, reliable supply of soybeans. The U.S. generally has consistently reliable delivery with fewer delays than our competitors in other countries.
The U.S. soybean industry continuously works to keep its advantage as competition stiffens around the globe. The importance of the U.S. Soy Advantage affects all links of the value chain, from farmers to elevators to end users. And when marketed effectively, it makes U.S. soy the clear choice for global buyers — even better for all links of the value chain.
“One of the things U.S. exporters can do to help us drive preference for our products is by proudly marketing their products as U.S. Soy all the way to the end consumer,” says Sutter. “Helping them better understand how to do that is something we’re happy to help facilitate.”