On June 24, the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), Specialty Soya Grains Alliance (SSGA), and World initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) hosted trade teams from Myanmar and Cambodia for a “Fork to Farm” event. Attendance included representatives from each aspect of the soybean supply chain, from farmers to soy customers, exporters and everyone in between.
The buyers began their journey at the ISA Bloomington office for a briefing from ISA’s Market Development team. Representatives from SSGA, including Executive Director, Eric Wenberg and Manager of Strategic Programs, Shane Frederick, gave presentations describing the importance of specialty food-grade soybeans that are grown locally.
Following presentations, lunch was provided by Phoenix Bean, a premier supplier of tofu to the Chicagoland area who prides themselves on their plant-based protein sourced and produced right here in Illinois. Owner of Phoenix Bean, Jenny Yang, joined in the conversation to offer her unique experience with the purchase of soybeans from Illinois farmers, and the processing of soybeans into food products.
As attendees enjoyed their protein packed soy lunches, Drew Whalen, Senior Merchandiser for Clarkson Grain, highlighted the importance of Identity-Preserved food ingredients when ensuring the quality and safety of soy food products. With Clarkson’s Identity-Preserved soybeans, they are able to be traced from the grocery store shelves to the farmer who grew the product. The visiting buyers were assured that, when it comes to Illinois soybeans, quality and safety are a top priority.
For their last stop, ISA coordinated a visit to Board Director, Bryan Severs’, Vermillion County farm. Severs welcomed the group and showed the buyers his equipment and all the technology that makes it possible to be efficient and deliver a quality product. Severs takes pride in knowing he is producing a high-quality, food grade product that end users, like Jenny Yang, are happy with.
The Fork to Farm event was a unique opportunity to connect people along the entire soybean supply chain to discuss and answer questions from foreign buyers. “It’s always a great opportunity to host Illinois soy buyers and show them the behind-the-scenes process of the specialty soybean supply chain,” says ISA International Markets Manager, Eileen Urish. The ISA Market Development team was proud to take part in strengthening relationships with international soy buyers and increasing the value of soybeans from Illinois around the world.