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Huge demand pushes Philippine soybean imports

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - September 16, 2019 - 12:00am

Casselton, North Dakota — The Philippines will continue to increase importation of soybean from the US amid better economic conditions that would further push demand for the commodity.

Sinner Bros. & Bresnahan (SB&B), which exports organic and non-GMO food grade soybeans globally, is expecting to triple its volume to the Philippines in the next five years from the current 1,000 metric tons.

“I am convinced of more shipments to the Philippines given the better economic status which will drive more demand for soy as well as the vegan market as soy is the cheapest source of protein,” SB&B president Robert Sinner said in a meeting here.

“And also it is easier to work with Philippine companies since we already have the certain trade relationship,” he said.

Majority of SB&B exports is used for soy milk and Lucio Tan-owned Asia Brewery Inc. is among its big customers from the Philippines.

SB&B is a family-owned, large scale agribusiness producing, processing and supplying the world’s food grade products with farming operations in the heart of the Red River Valley of North Dakota.

Even North Dakota Soybean Growers Association executive director Nancy Johnson is optimistic on the trend of soybean trade.

“The Philippines is the largest for the US especially on SBM (soybean meal). It is growing and will continue to grow amid more use for swine and poultry feeds,” Johnson said.

In fact, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the country’s importation of SBM is seen increasing by seven percent to 3.15 million MT this year amid an expanding livestock industry.

SBM imports are forecast to reach a record 3.15 million MT from the 2.95 million MT last year driven by strong feed demand from the expanding domestic hog and poultry industries.

SBM coming from the US will continue its lead in the market share, enhanced by less competition from Argentina and Brazil.

Data showed that SBM imports from the US reached $888 million last year, the highest ever, making the country the largest market in the world for US SBM for second year in a row.

Further, the trend is likely to remain the same with other soybean importing countries as SB&B expects at least 15 percent growth all over its exports.

Apart from the Philippines, there is large demand coming from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Spain and Sweden.

Here in North Dakota, a distinct characteristic in production is that soybean farmers are required, under federal law, to provide checkoffs which is half of the one percent of the price of each bushel at point of sale. Half of the collections goes to North Dakota and the other half to the state level organization of soybean producers.

The fund goes to research, market development, and communications and promotions among others with all producers participating in the checkoff. Last year, collections reached $12 million.

“Farmers here are trusted by American consumers and they want to be involved because they want to be heard,” Johnson said.

Top destinations of North Dakota soybeans are China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Bangladesh which take up to 23 days to be delivered.

Bulk or 72 percent of its produce are exported globally via the Pacific Northwest, 23 percent shipped to other US states and the remaining five percent stays in North Dakota for local consumption.

The state has seen tremendous growth for soybean production of about 1,792 percent from 1980 up to the present. Primary use for soybeans is 90 percent meal and oil and eight percent for human food.

Last year, North Dakota had a total production of 6.62 million MT valued at $2.02 billion harvested in 2.77 million hectares of land with an average yield of 2.38 MT per hectare.

For the whole of US, aggregate production was 123.66 million MT harvested in 35.65 million hectares with a yield of 3.47 MT per hectare.

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