Representatives from the American Soybean Association (ASA), American Soybean Association International Marketing (ASA-IM), United Soybean Board (USB), U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), and the University of Minnesota met recently with soy customers in China and South Korea to present the findings of the 2010 U.S. Soybean Crop Quality report.
“International soy buyers enthusiastically anticipate these results from the collected soybean samples,” said ASA First Vice-President Alan Kemper, a soybean producer from Lafayette, Ind. “The levels of protein and oil in soybeans determine how much soybean meal can be made and how much soybean oil can be extracted from a bushel of soybeans, so protein and oil has a direct impact on the value of soybeans when they are processed.”
About 10,000 U.S. farmers received soybean quality survey kits by mail earlier in the year. Each soybean sample kit allows farmers to take up to a 1-pound sample from a single soybean variety on their farm. The kit also contains instructions and a postage-paid return envelope. In exchange for a sample, each farmer receives back a free analysis of the protein and oil content of the new crop soybeans they submit. Samples received by Oct. 23, served as the basis for the 2010 U.S. Soybean Crop Quality report.
USSEC, in collaboration with ASA and USB, sponsored the 26th annual soybean crop quality survey this year. The annual crop quality survey measures the compositional attributes, most notably protein and oil, which international soy buyers seek from soybeans. Professor Seth Neave at the University of Minnesota conducted the analysis this year, which also measured levels of amino acids and fatty acids.
Amino acids important
“Amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, are important because they are fundamentally what livestock feeders are buying when they purchase soybean meal; most livestock rations are balanced on the basis of amino acids, not protein,” Kemper said. “Fatty acids levels help determine the quality of the oil that is extracted from soybeans and what type of processing might be necessary to make the final consumer product.”
U.S. soy exports had a total value of more than $21 billion for the 2009-10 marketing year ending August 31, 2010. The 1.9 billion bushel equivalents of soybeans, soy meal and soy oil exported during the marketing year set a record for the fourth consecutive year. Whole soybean exports for the year were 1.45 billion bushels, up from the 08-09 total of 1.24 billion bushels. About 59 percent of U.S. soybean production was exported, compared to 55 percent last year.
China was the top customer for U.S. soybeans, importing 825 million bushels in the 09-10 marketing year. That was up from 686 million bushels in 08-09. It is estimated that China imported a full one-fourth (25 percent) of the 2009 U.S. soybean crop. Korea imported 25 million bushels in the 09-10 marketing year. That was up from 13 million bushels in 08-09.
“The Crop Quality report is just one of many ways that U.S. soybean farmers develop long-term relationships with our export customers in Asia,” Kemper said. “Quality and reliability are important factors in building customer preference for buying U.S. soybeans and soybean products.”
ASA Vice-President Steve Wellman, a soybean producer from Syracuse, Neb., along with representatives from ASA-IM, USB and USSEC, is also participating in soybean quality conferences with U.S. soy customers in Japan and Taiwan.
The activities of USSEC to expand international markets for U.S. soybeans and products are made possible through ASA’s investment of cost-share funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, support from cooperating industry, and by producer checkoff dollars invested by USB and various State Soybean Councils.