There has been no shortage of media coverage and news regarding trade relations between the U.S. and China; much of the attention has focused on the impact to agriculture, specifically the U.S. Soy industry. While it is true that U.S. Soy exports to China have halted, there are many great things happening behind closed doors, leaving room for optimism. Amidst continued negotiations between the two countries, it’s no secret many producers and suppliers of U.S. Soy remain committed to maintaining relationships with buyers and users of U.S. Soy products in China. Likewise, many Chinese importers and processors of soy understand the importance of maintaining relationships with their business partners here in the U.S.

In recent weeks, the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) has hosted three trade teams from China. All of these guests have a couple of things in common: they’re current customers of the U.S. Soy industry and they want to continue pursuing and improving business relationships with U.S. Soy suppliers.

China Soy Industry Well-Received at the U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange & Midwest Specialty Grains Conference and Trade Show

Welcoming around 750 guests from 53 different countries, the 2018U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange & Midwest Specialty Grains Conference and Trade Show(GTE) featured members of the U.S. Soy industry, including farmers, producers of soy products, and exporters, in additional to nearly 250 international buyers and users of U.S. Soy. USSEC welcomed guests from China representing the food-grade soy industry and crushers seeking to purchase soy for the intent of producing animal feeds and oil.

Representatives from five Chinese food companies visited with exporters and processing facilities of U.S. Soy products in North Dakota, Minnesota, Ohio, and Missouri prior to the GTE. Additionally, the trip marked the first time most of the team had the opportunity to visit a farm. During the GTE, the team participated in the Trade Team Invitational (TTI), a series of speed meetings between the trade team with several U.S. Soy food-grade and Identity Preserved (IP) soybean exporters. Every meeting slot was filled for this team, indicating U.S. Soy exporters are eager to establish relationships in the world’s leading soybean consuming country.

The Chinese soy crushing industry was also well accounted for at the GTE; 13 companies made up the China bulk crushers trade team. Although team members are not currently importing U.S. soybeans, the majority of these companies’ soy previously included the purchase of soybeans produced in the United States. After visiting the GTE, the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), and the family farm of United Soybean Board (USB) Director Meagan Kaiser, the group visited Norfolk, Virginia and learned more about the export infrastructure serving the eastern U.S. Soy industry.

A participant of the China IP and food-grade buyers team reviews variety offerings at NeCo Seed Farms Inc. in Garden City, Missouri during industry activities leading up to the start of the GTE.

Annual Chinese Crop Tour Reviews 2018 U.S. Soybean Crop

Each year, USSEC hosts several Chinese companies. The purpose of this mission is to review and monitor the U.S. Soy crop for the year to provide important input for these companies’ purchasing forecasts for the coming marketing year. Purchasing agents and marketing professionals represented their companies’ interests, and desire to learn more about U.S. Soy production and the outlook for the 2018 harvest.

Dividing into two groups, half of the group visited farms and industry in Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota while the remainder of the group visited Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio; these states produced more than 62 percent of the U.S. soybean crop in 2017. The group reconvened in Portland, Oregon to learn more about export infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) region.

The team then compiles the information received from soybean fields observed in these seven states to gain an overview on the health and composition of the crop. These companies, who have purchased a large amount of U.S. Soy in recent years, use the information to compare the current crop’s quality and size with recent years, which has contributed important information to their soy purchasing patterns.

Minnesota soybean farmer and Minnesota Soybean Grower Association director Darin Johnson, discusses his 2018 soybean crop with the China Crop tour team earlier this month. Photo courtesy of Minnesota Soybean Growers Association.

The importance of long-term trade relationships will remain a priority for the U.S. Soy industry in China. Recent trends continue to project increases of global soy utilization, and China will remain the world’s largest importer of soybeans.

“China is and will continue to be the largest buyer of soybeans globally,” said Paul Burke, Regional Director for North Asia. “Many of these companies we host here in the states, whether attending the GTE or as part of a trade team, prefer to purchase their soybean demand from the U.S. The quality and consistency of the products China receives from the U.S. have helped develop and maintain very strong business relationships that began decades ago.”

As the U.S. Soy industry awaits further negotiations between the U.S. and China, industries in both countries continue to share the same sentiment: they want to do business with their long-term partners across the Pacific. With a relationship dating back 36 years, the U.S. Soy industry is eager to once again “shake hands” and convene soy trade with its friends in China.

USSEC will continue to promote the U.S. Soy Advantage throughout its five designated regions, including China as part of North Asia.  To stay up-to-date with the latest activities and events involving the country of China, and other countries and regions, visit our USSEC Eventspage on the USSEC website.