FARGO, N.D. (March 2, 2018) — Food companies in Myanmar and Cambodia will soon receive their first shipments of U.S. food-grade soybeans loaded this week in Fargo, creating new opportunities for the U.S. soybean industry to build long-term trade with the growing economies.
Thanks to support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Quality Samples Program, the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) Program facilitated a shipment of 14 metric tons of U.S. food-grade soybeans for use in soy milk and tofu on Thursday, March 1, 2018.
Following a competitive bidding process open to all food bean exporters, shipping containers of soybeans from North Dakota and Minnesota are now ready to begin the more than 7000-mile journey to companies that will evaluate the soy in full-scale production trials. Three members of the Northern Food Grade Soybean Association (NFGSA) provided the seven varieties of high-quality soybeans for the trials by soy milk and tofu companies that WISHH has worked with in the two countries. The North Dakota Soybean Council (NDSC) has supported WISHH’s activities that resulted in the companies’ interest in U.S. soybeans for the premium products that they are developing. NDSC is also providing funding to send Northern Crops Institute (NCI) Food Scientist Zach Liu, Ph.D., to train staff in in the companies conducting the trials.
ASA/WISHH Program Committee Member and North Dakota Soybean Council Secretary Matt Gast, who farms near Valley City, N.D., traveled to both countries in January where he joined WISHH in meetings with companies that will evaluate the U.S. soy. Gast also witnessed the market for U.S. soy in food as well as feed, including aquaculture feed.
“Cambodia and Myanmar are significant opportunities for U.S. soy to meet their growing demand for high-quality soybeans,” Gast said. “I met company representatives who see U.S. soy’s value because it will allow them to produce a higher-quality product and avoid the cleaning and sorting required to remove stones and debris from their current supply.”
“USDA’s support of WISHH’s activities in these countries is an important partnership with our North Dakota soybean checkoff investments,” Gast added. “Together, we are connecting trade and development in Myanmar and Cambodia, which will also benefit through availability of higher-quality soy foods like tofu.”
“The NCI appreciates the opportunity to provide technical assistance and support in WISHH’s efforts to promote food-grade soybeans to this region of the world,” said Liu.
“We are pleased to further expand food grade soybeans into these new markets while supporting the WISHH program,” said Healthy Food Ingredients Vice President of International Business Aaron Skyberg.
“In collaboration with various members of the soybean industry, we are pleased to support the WISHH program and provide high-quality food soybeans to these emerging markets,” said SB&B Foods Inc. Vice President Todd Sinner.
USDA analysis found that Myanmar, sometimes called Burma, and Cambodia are home to growing middle-income consumer segments. Myanmar has 53 million people and Cambodia’s population is 15.7 million. Together, the two countries’ populations are nearly 11 times as large as the combined population of North Dakota and Minnesota where the soybeans used in the trials were grown.
The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) has cultivated growth in the use of U.S. soybean meal for livestock and aquaculture feed in Myanmar. “Our work in Myanmar shows how U.S. soybean growers have a unified market development strategy through the work or WISHH, USSEC and USDA,” Gast said.
North Dakota soybean farmers across the state are represented on the North Dakota Soybean Council Board, which oversees a grass roots promotion, research and marketing program funded by soybean checkoff dollars. NDSC ‘s mission is to effectively invest and leverage North Dakota soy checkoff resources to maximize the benefits of North Dakota soy. NDSC is organized by North Dakota State law.
ASA/WISHH connects trade and development. As a trailblazer for trade, WISHH grows markets for U.S. soy farmers, and at the same time, improves lives and economic opportunities in developing countries. WISHH works with international companies and organizations that purchase U.S. soy. These buyers invest thousands of their own dollars to research and promote soy-based foods and feeds made with U.S. soy in emerging markets. Over the last five years, WISHH leveraged soybean farmer checkoff investments by a ratio of more than 6-1.
Northern Crops Institute (NCI) supports regional agriculture and value-added processing by conducting educational and technical programs that expand and maintain domestic and international markets for northern-grown crops. NCI is funded by the states of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota and commodity groups in those states and Montana.