Farm in Honduras

Building preference for U.S. soy

October 28, 2022 | Bethany Baratta

Checkoff dollars support initiatives globally that boost demand and use of U.S. soy for humans and livestock. Tori Sorensen, a member of the U.S. Soybean Export Council’s (USSEC) board of directors and chairwoman for the Soy Excellence Center, shares how USSEC works on behalf of soybean farmers in global markets.

How are you connected to the soybean industry?

I’m the marketing director for Insta-Pro International, based in Grimes. We manufacture chemical-free processing equipment, such as extruders and oil presses, to make food and feed ingredients like full-fat soy, soybean meal and soy oil.

Growing up on a multi-generational farm in southeast Iowa, I am proud to represent my family and farmers across America through my work with USSEC.

Through my travels and communications with buyers worldwide, I believe U.S. soy is a solution that delivers an unmatched combination of proven quality, sustainability and unwavering reliability. U.S. soy is uniquely positioned to provide sustainable protein solutions for the complex challenges of a rising global population.

U.S. soy is often touted as being a first choice of customers globally. What makes U.S. soy stand out specifically to the livestock industry?

Protein. It’s an essential part of human and animal diets worldwide. And as the world’s population continues to grow, demand for all protein will remain front and center.

In fact, all signs point to significant growth in protein demand, a trajectory occurring over the last decade and predicted to continue through 2030.

This increasing demand for meat, poultry, fish and other protein sources puts U.S. soybean growers in a great position to be a preferred provider at home and abroad.

Globally, animal agriculture is the largest customer for U.S. soy; nearly 97% of all U.S. soybean meal ends up in feed. Poultry and swine are the largest soybean meal consumers. In 2020, these two groups consumed 88% of the soybean meal in the U.S.

Globally, food production systems rely on U.S. soy to be a consistent source of protein, and it’s no secret that for poultry, livestock and seafood, U.S. soybean meal is the best source.

The key difference between the U.S. and our competitors is U.S. soybean farmers provide the feed industry with the most consistent and reliable source of soy protein in the world.

To meet the global demand for animal feed, the farmers who grow sustainable U.S. soy care about being a reliable supplier and take pride in providing a high-quality product to their international customers.

What does soy have that other ingredients don’t?

U.S. soy is a source of complete and essential nutrients for humans and animals, providing all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for a healthy diet.

Among global soy origins, U.S. soy has an excellent amino acid profile, increased metabolizable energy content due to higher sugar levels, lower fiber content and improved amino acid digestibility, higher total phosphorus content, and greater uniformity of nutrients.

U.S. soy also has a higher concentration of essential amino acids and digestible energy than soy from other origins.

Why is the amino acid component important?

Critical for animal function, amino acids are responsible for the growth and development of an organism, from building muscles and regulating the immune system to generating hormones and neurotransmitters.

Proteins are made up of several different combinations of approximately 20 amino acids. During digestion, animals break down proteins into individual amino acids that are absorbed into the bloodstream.

Out of these 20 amino acids, there are 10 that animals cannot make. Animals can recycle some amino acids to build new proteins, but other amino acids, such as lysine, methionine and threonine can only be obtained through feed.

With 10 essential and 10 non-essential amino acids, U.S. soybean meal is cost-effective in supplying essential amino acids and has very good lysine content and digestibility. Soybean meal is also ranked high in threonine digestibility.

How are the soy organizations you are involved with helping producers across the globe learn how to utilize U.S. soy in livestock diets?

Education through training and relationship building is a cornerstone of our work.

Through USSEC, the U.S. soy industry has provided educational training for companies and individuals around the globe. In 2019, we took that training further by launching the first of five Soy Excellence Centers (SECs).

The SEC mission is to provide world-class workforce training and capacity building within the soy value chain to enable local visions for health, nutrition and environmental sustainability in collaboration with diverse food and agriculture stakeholders.

Our vision for SECs is to create a global network of tomorrow’s leaders in soy across the globe. As a professional development program, SECs can provide a pathway for participants to achieve professional certification and career advancement.

How do SECs benefit the U.S. soy industry?

Soy Excellence Centers increase the capacity of enterprises in the protein value chain in emerging markets. This increased capacity leads to increased soy utilization and diversified demand for U.S. soy.

Individuals trained in SECs are the future leaders of the protein value chain in these emerging markets. Through regular communications, advanced learning opportunities and protein value chain community development efforts, SECs create long-term connections and an affinity for U.S. soy among the future decision-makers in these emerging markets.

SECs provide a value-added service in the form of workforce training and capacity building for USSEC enterprises in emerging markets.

Are any new research or opportunities on the horizon related to livestock feeding?

By investing in new feeding trials through the United Soybean Board (USB), we continue to showcase how new genetics improve the amino acid profile of the soybean, which translates to improved animal performance.

Is there anything else farmers should know about how their checkoff investment is used to build preference for U.S. soy globally?

We work hard to make farmers’ investments work for you and future generations.

The U.S. soybean industry, supported by USB, works through organizations like USSEC and the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health to build relationships, provide networking and connect members of the value chain, ultimately creating long term demand for U.S. Soy in developing and emerging markets.

These organizations allow soybean growers to differentiate U.S. soy and create partnerships built on trust and reliability.

While principles from the U.S. help guide success in other countries, these organizations work hard to customize their approach for each region and allow for nuances in local governments and local consumer preferences. Meeting customers where they are on the path to purchasing U.S. soy can help set U.S. soybean growers up for success in the future.