(Photo credit: Joseph Hopper/Iowa Soybean Association)

GTE 2021: Overheard at the Global Trade Exchange

September 9, 2021 | Joseph Hopper

The 2021 U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange and Specialty Grains Conference brought 1,500 attendees from across the soy spectrum to St. Louis — either in person or virtually — from Aug. 24-26 to hear the latest news about the soybean industry.

With more than a dozen panels hosted by industry professionals and experts, some of the most popular surrounded international trade and logistics. Out of hours of conversation, commentary and opinions, here’s a sample of what was overheard at the conference.



“In 2019, China’s Vice Minister of Agriculture Han Jun and myself and our teams were going back and forth. We had 33 negotiating sessions in 2019. … We spent hundreds of hours talking about different structural issues and our trading relationship between the U.S. and China. Interestingly enough, the only commodity we didn’t have a problem with was soybeans.”

— Gregg Doud, former chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, during the 2021 GTE panel “Charting Supply and Meeting Demand”





“In the United States, think about commodity prices and food prices. Commodity prices can be quite the distance from food at the grocery store. In fact, a little over 14 cents of the food dollar actually ends up with the farmer. When we had initial COVID-19 impacts, we had rising consumer prices and falling producer prices because of disruption in the supply chain: higher meat prices, lower animal prices.

As we began to resolve those issues we had this very strong run in commodity prices: corn, soybeans and things like hogs and cattle, that kept. Food at the grocery store came down but had a bit of floor put on it by these rising commodity prices. … As we think about this, for me, commodity prices have seemed to have peaked, we’ve at least reached a plateau for many things. The future of food price inflation remains an issue. A lot of things in the U.S. food dollar occur beyond the farm gate. We have to worry about transit, shipping — not only internally but externally too — in terms of ports, rail, labor.”

— Dr. Seth Meyer, chief economist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, during the 2021 GTE panel “Charting Supply and Meeting Demand”





“In 2022, we still see demand for grain outstripping supply ships.”

— Guy Hindley, managing partner at Howe Robinson Partners, during the 2021 GTE panel “Navigating the Oceans: Mega Trends in Shipping”




“We are right now in a crisis in ocean shipping because of some of the things that went on in the last year. … There’s some panic buying going on, retail buyers are really putting a lot of pressure to get as much capacity as possible. We’re hearing they’re chartering different types of vessels other than container vessels because there’s no capacity left. Hopefully some of the issues of congestion can be worked out but it’s not inconceivable it could go on past (early 2022).”

— Carl Bentzel, Federal Maritime Commission commissioner, during the 2021 GTE panel “Navigating the Oceans: Dive into Container Shipping and Transportation Challenges”

Look for more in-depth coverage of this year’s U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange in the October edition of the Iowa Soybean Review.