Nearly 300 US soy customers and soy industry representatives from more than 30 countries had the opportunity to connect, learn from each other and facilitate trade opportunities through a virtual meeting co-hosted by the US Soybean Export Council (USSEC), the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (ASA/WISHH) and the US Grains Council (USGC).
The two-day virtual conference held between November 9 and 10 and tagged, the African Trade Exchange, was aimed at strengthening trade with the African continent and discussing partnership opportunities to build demand for US soy. It showcased globally renowned speakers on the intenational grain trade, the future of the African feed industry and long-term commercial trade development.
“Africa continues to be a region that holds tremendous potential. It is a great example of where we see a future for US soy, and our goal is to expand engagement with customers and remain a consistent supplier to this region,” said Jim Sutter, USSEC CEO. “This virtual conference is more evidence of our long-term commitment to the African region in partnership with WISHH and USGC and our optimism on building long-term relationships.”
Sub-Saharan Africa is currently the sixth largest destination of US feed and grain exports, with Nigeria being the largest destination within the region. According to the USDA, soybean and soybean meal feed use in the region are projected to increase by 59 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively, until 2029. These numbers represent an opportunity for boosted demand of US soy.
The Chairman of USSEC, board member of the American Soybean Association and soybean farmer in Valley City, N.D., Monte Peterson, said “the need for a high-quality protein product like US soybean meal will be vital as this region’s population continues to grow. Our farmers are prepared to meet this need and show how US soy delivers proven, consistent quality, reliability and value to earn its role as a trusted partner around the globe.”
Earlier this year, a new comprehensive study reinforced US soy’s reputation as a global leader in nutrient density and economic value. A meta-analysis of 18 different studies with 1,944 samples quantified the relationship between country of origin of the bean and the chemical composition and nutritive value of the soybean meal. The analysis proves that US soybean meal not only has an advantage relative to higher sucrose levels, an excellent amino acid profile, higher digestibility, increased metabolisable energy and lower fibre content (when compared to other origins) but it also has a price advantage. All of which can be beneficial to the sub-Saharan Africa region.
“Identifying new and growing markets in sub-Saharan Africa is part of the long-term strategy to build a strong pipeline of demand for US soy. The population of this region exceeds one billion people, with predictions to double by 2050, making it one of the most substantial frontier markets in the entire world,” said Kevin Roepke, USSEC’s Regional Director for South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. “Holding virtual meetings like the African Trade Exchange will help us grow and sustain these markets where there is significant future potential due to factors such as large populations, improving economic conditions and low protein consumption.”
Attendees had the opportunity to learn more about the processes of securing credit, hedging risk, formulating rations and many other facets of the international soy and feed grain supply chain. Other topics included: the state of the West African market, a US soy industry spotlight, aquafeed production, animal feed production and industrial feed compounding.
“Providing technical, economic and logistical assistance is at the heart of the US Grains Council’s long-term strategy in Africa, where the United Nations estimates demand for meat, milk and eggs will quadruple by 2050s,” said Kurt Shultz, Senior Director of Global Strategies for USGC. “Events like the African Trade Exchange are also an important part of our plan to solidify and build relationships in the region.”
The conference also provided an exclusive networking opportunity for USSEC and USGC members to engage importers through the US Grain and Soy Spotlight. The spotlight allowed attendees to participate in a one-hour roundtable, encouraging relationship-building and educational opportunities to learn more about these organizations committed to sub-Saharan Africa.
The Executive Director of WISHH, Liz Hare, stated that, “delivering to Africa’s growing protein demand was a priority for US soybean growers when they founded WISHH in 2000. WISHH has 20 years of proven experience working with African entrepreneurs who join us in recognising the importance of protein for Africa’s food security, as well as the economic opportunities it provides for businesses. This conference was testament to US soybean farmer commitment to supplying high-quality protein to the African continent.”