U.S. soybean exporters eye India

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — India is a market with incredible untapped market potential, says the U.S. Soybean Export Council.

“Protein is a highly misunderstood macronutrient in that country,” said council chief executive officer Jim Sutter.

He told delegates attending the 2020 Commodity Classic conference that 73 percent of India’s population is protein deficient and more than 90 percent of the population is unaware of the ideal protein requirements.

That is why the USSEC launched an education campaign in that market. It has made 170 media placements in 18 major cities in India that have reached an estimated 170 million people.

The council sees India as a prime future market for U.S. soybeans because nearly 80 percent of Indian households will be considered middle income by 2030, up from 50 percent today.

USSEC has been investing in market development efforts in India for 20 years. The first task was to get the world’s fifth largest soybean producer to consume its own soybeans.

“We’re essentially to that point,” said Sutter.

“They have very little left to export.”

That is creating marketing opportunities for U.S. soybeans in surrounding countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh that used to rely on Indian soybeans.

Sutter was recently in Bangladesh, where he saw a load of soybeans from the U.S. Pacific Northwest region being unloaded and crushed for the first time by a local crusher.

Emerging markets are the focus for the USSEC’s marketing efforts. Some of those efforts are already paying dividends.

Sales to Pakistan are up 72 percent over the past two years, while exports to Egypt have soared 183 percent. Mexico and Spain are two other big growth markets.

However, there are other markets, such as Nigeria, where it is all about future demand. USSEC sent its first delegation to that market in 2019.

Nigeria is expected to be home to 264 million people by 2030. It is a market where people are consuming one kilogram of soy per capita compared to the average of 55 kilograms in other emerging markets.

USSEC plans to launch a media campaign later this year in Nigeria similar to the one it conducted in India.

“If we can fully bridge this gap in soy consumption, Nigeria and surrounding countries could become one of U.S. soy’s top-three growth markets by 2030,” said Sutter.

USSEC plans to open a soy excellence centre in Nigeria. The centre will provide training, resources and education for the country’s animal protein integrators, feed millers, animal nutritionists and academics.

The council is already operating a similar centre in Egypt and plans to open centres in Thailand and Mexico as well.

Sutter said other key emerging markets for U.S. soybeans are Algeria, Morocco and 12 countries in the Americas.

While USSEC is focused on emerging and expansion markets, the American Soybean Association is running the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program, which is focused on developing markets.

Daryl Cates, a soybean farmer from Illinois, has been working with WISHH in Cambodia on a project designed to boost soybean use in aquaculture diets.

It is promoting soybean feed pellets that float on water. Cates believes Cambodia could be a market for 100,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans by 2030.

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