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ISA checkoff investment supports market-building efforts

Article cover photo
Soybean meal was offloaded from this ship in the Port of Tarragona in Spain last week. U.S. soybean meal exports to Europe are on the rise. (Photo: Matthew Wilde/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Matthew Wilde, ISA senior writer


It appears a $50,000 checkoff investment by Iowa farmers to boost soy exports to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa will pay off handsomely.

The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) hosted the 2018 U.S. Soybean Regional Trade Exchange for the three regions Nov. 27-30. Funding from the Iowa Soybean Association, various other state and national soy organizations and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service helped bring the “who’s who” of soybean buyers and U.S. exporters together in Barcelona, Spain.

To mitigate U.S. soybean sales losses to China due to the ongoing trade war between the nations, USSEC held the conference to build and maintain market share in the more than 40 countries in Europe and MENA (Middle East/North Africa).

Mission accomplished, according to USSEC and industry officials.

“I feel optimistic we accomplished the goal with the caliber of networking meetings that took place,” said Jim Sutter, USSEC CEO. “We’ve been active for a long time in all three regions — 50 years in Europe and 40 years in MENA.

“The U.S. has supplied about one-third of their soy needs in recent years. We certainly want to grow that,” he added. “I’m not sure 100 percent is achievable; the goal is as high as possible.”

U.S. soybean and soybean meal exports are up 243 percent and 105 percent, respectively, to Europe and MENA since the marketing year started Sept. 1, according to USSEC. Nearly 3.7 million metric tons (nearly 135 million bushels) of soybeans and 650,000 metric tons of soybean meal (30.2-million-bushel equivalent) were shipped to the regions as of Nov. 8, government records show.

Brent Babb, USSEC regional director for Europe and MENA, says market conditions and buyer satisfaction with U.S. soy products indicate record sales ahead in his program areas.

Babb predicts soybean sales to Europe this year will hit 10 million metric tons (367.4 million bushels), up nearly 4 million metric tons from last year and more than double the 5-year average. Meal sales could reach 1.6 million metric tons, a little less than double last year’s total and the five-year average. Total soy imports to Europe last year were 34 million metric tons.

“I think the growth will continue this year,” Babb said. “Exporters and farmers are talking about sustainability and quality, and the messages resonate. When prices are close again, this will help push U.S. sales.”

Iowa Soybean Association President Lindsday Greiner of Keota tells soybean buyers attending the 2018 U.S. Soybean Regional Trade Exchange in Barcelona, Spain last week about his farm. (Photo: Matthew Wilde/Iowa Soybean Association)

Alexander Doring, general secretary of the European Feed Manufacturer’s Federation, projects U.S. soybean imports to the continent could hit 13 million metric tons (nearly 478 million bushels) this year.

He said imported soy is the lifeline of Europe’s feed industry, which the U.S. is supplying nicely.

“Our demands for soy are rising every year in terms of quality and nutritional profiles, which are key drivers for the animal industry in Europe,” Doring continued.

U.S. soy imports to MENA doubled last year to 4 million metric tons, of which 3.3 million where soybeans, according to USSEC. The crushing industry has expanded rapidly to keep up with demand.

“I’m not sure we can double again this year, but we may get close,” Babb said. “That’s a high level, but doable.”

Contact Matthew Wilde at


For media inquiries, please contact Katie Johnson, ISA Public Relations Manager at or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at

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