Soybean leaders look for new international markets

Industry leaders look to trade and new international markets as the soybean sector tries to make the most of from the trade war aftermath and now pandemic disruptions.

The latest weekly export sales report shows more than 2.5 million metric tons of soybeans have been bought in the export market. “If you consider international trade of soybeans coming out of the premium exporters... you look at month-by-month shipments, you see demand continuing to grow. Import demand globally is very, very strong,” United Soybean Board’s Mac Marshall states.

The U.S. Soybean Export Council has been keeping an eye on the U.S. international trade landscape. According to USSEC’s Roz Leeck, “We are very aware of the importance of Chinese markets and it’s not going to diminish in importance. China accounts for nearly 70 percent of global soybean trade, so you certainly have to be a participant in that market. However, we also realize that when 30 percent of our total production, almost half of our exports, were going to a single market. That’s quite a risky endeavor.”

For some time, USSEC has been working on spreading the wealth around the U.S. market share. “Even prior to the trade war, trade friction, we had been make a very conscious and strategic effort to evolve into some of these other markets,” Leeck notes. “We feel very confident that we had lessened the impact the trade war has had on agriculture sector.”

While they cannot completely offset the losses experienced due to the trade war, opportunities like that in Thailand have seen some growth. However, recent weeks presented some market access challenges.

Leeck adds, “So, we’ve been working very closely with all our partners in the supply chain to try and provide the relevant input to have a positive outcome for trade to enable trade to continue with the Thai industry.”

The American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health is also working on developing and emerging markets.

Their executive director, Liz Hare, states, “We really design our projects to ensure that they’re a win win for everyone. We’re creating new markets for U.S. soybean farmers, but we’re also improving food security in countries that need it most.”