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Soy Export Council goes after emerging markets

Photo courtesy of the American Soybean Association (ASA)

We grow more soybeans than we can eat. American farmers have expected export sales to come from those who do not have enough plant protein grown in their countries for human or animal feed.

In the real world, there is competition from Brazil and other major exporters, and there are trade disputes that have reduced United States exports and likely damaged our relationship with traditional buyers.

What to do? Find new markets. 

AUDIO: Profit Matters 11-20-19

The U.S. Soybean Export Council is doing just that. Its leader is an Iowan you may know from his jobs in the state in the 1990’s or his residency now.

Ken Root: “I’m talking to a missionary from the state of Iowa. Ed Beaman, you may know him. He lives in Pleasant Hill and was head of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa back in the 1990s. He works for the U.S. Soy Export Council. In what capacity?”

Ed Beaman: “I’m the senior director for the Export Council, primarily focused on building emerging market space around the world that includes Sub-Saharan Africa. It includes parts of what we call a Asia sub-continent area. So India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. This emerging market space also includes countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, and countries in South and Central America, where we have a regional director already in place. I work closely with the regional director team to try to put programs in place that can optimize the opportunities we have in those markets to grow U.S. market share.”

Ken Root: “Let’s say you have a regional director there. Do they set up demonstrations? Do they show food products? Do they show things that they can get from the U.S. and figure out how that country can pay for it?”

Ed Beaman: “That’s part of it. The methodology of the United States Soybean Export Council has been to build each of the marketplaces with what we call ‘boots on the ground’ with people that really understand. They’re generally local contractors. Our task is to show, to differentiate and add value to U.S. soy around the world. We do that in a number of ways. We do that by bringing parties together in big  trade servicing events (and) by individual training opportunities along the soy value chain to improve their efficiencies, to show them how to best crush U.S. soybeans, to optimize the value of the meal.

That training component is a big part of what we do around the world. Our regional director team is responsible for putting those programs together. If it’s in an emerging market space, then I’m responsible for helping find non-traditional funding and additional funding so we can do this long-term and in a sustainable manner over time. A primary focus in my recent days has been Nigeria, in sub Saharan Africa, which is the biggest population of any country in Africa.

Importantly, relationship management is key. Early on we have to build these strong relationships in this foundation. That’s what’s kept us in China, even through the current trade and tariff disputes. It’s the relationship management that we’ve built there over 30 years. So building the foundation, relationship management, and trust that we are there to help and not just sell is important.”

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