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Maximizing trade opportunities during global pandemic

Photo courtesy of Iowa Soybean Association

“Certainly we have challenges in front of us with the coronavirus pandemic,” says Grant Kimberley, director of market development at the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA). The organization’s staff, however, pledge to do “what it takes” to recapture lost market share. 

In a typical year, Iowa Soybean Association members and staff would visit a handful of countries and host multiple trade missions. How the organization conducts business with international trading partners looks different this year, due to coronavirus.

“A lot of what we have done has been based off (of) relationships: Hosting and organizing trade missions to other countries and bringing buyers to the United States and Iowa. That’s been a challenge because of COVID-19 restrictions,” Kimberley said. “We’ve moved to more virtual conferences, trade mission-type activities and organized more virtual seminars/webinars to continue that relationship and contact with our key customers and buyers around the world.”

Kimberley says, “It remains vitally important to maximize on opportunities,” as 60-percent of the domestic soybean crop is exported each year. The industry has been presented with an opportunity, as global demand for soybeans increases two- to four-percent each year.

“It’s our mission to make sure we capture our fair share of that,” Kimberley. “We do have competition in South America, which creates challenges for us at times. But we’re working hard to try to gain new markets and we’re having success in places like Bangladesh and Pakistan. Those countries are growing their demand for soy, in general, and we find they value the quality of U.S. soy over other origins and are willing to pay a slight premium at times. The Latin America/Mexico region is always important for us. The Middle East is growing. Places like Egypt that demand continues to grow and d we’re trying to gain more market share there.”

 

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