Innovation

U.S. Soy Looks to Pork Industry for Value Shift Success Story

The U.S. soybean industry is in the pole position when it comes to meeting customer demand. Domestic and international soybean customers continue to make U.S. soy their preferred source. This leadership comes from a track record of delivering the U.S. Soy Advantage of exceptional composition, consistent supply, sustainability and innovation – that customers have come to expect.

While these qualities remain the foundation for success, staying ahead of the pack requires an even greater focus on anticipating and meeting market needs. And as customers demand higher-quality meal and oil, the checkoff and its Long-Range Strategic Plan provide the roadmap to meet these demands and ensure there is a strong market for your crops in the future.

Lessons learned from Pork. The Other White Meat®

This intense focus on anticipating and meeting customer needs is nothing new to farmers and the ag industry. Take the pork industry, for example. When customers demanded leaner meat in the 1990s, the industry responded by changing the way it raised and marketed pigs to meet that demand.

Bill Even, National Pork Board CEO, says that while the change didn’t happen overnight, the shift from live-weight pricing to lean-yield pricing has benefited U.S. pork producers and its customers.

“Packing plants realized they could deliver more value from lean pork, and they added technology to measure the leanness. Then they adapted pricing grids to pay farmers for lean pigs,” says Even. “Producers quickly realized that lean pigs were more efficient than fat pigs.”

For the pork industry, the shift from live-weight pricing to yield and grade pricing based on the quality of the pork delivered led to improved genetics, nutrition and management practices throughout the supply chain.

“The pigs raised today are better than those raised a generation or two ago,” says Even. “The private sector actively innovated and found new ways to breed and raise pigs to better meet customer needs. That innovation has led to today’s robust pork industry, including record pork exports.”

Even says that while this approach has been widely successful, the pork industry continues to innovate and change the way it approaches the market to meet the needs of consumers and deliver more value to producers.

Meeting end-use demand for soy

So how can this example translate to the U.S. soybean industry?

The checkoff is leading efforts with the rest of the soy value chain to explore options to better meet customer demands for higher quality meal and oil. This could include implementing tools to better measure the oil and meal content and quality, and compensating farmers based on the value they deliver.

Realizing any potential changes to the way soybeans are grown and marketed may seem like a long race, but the U.S. soybean industry will no doubt lead the way to the finish line.

Julie Kenney
Julie Kenney

Julie Kenney grew up on an Iowa farm. She and her husband Mark have two children and are the fifth generation to grow corn, soybeans and oats on their central Iowa farm.