Focusing on expanding the reach of soybeans around the world is essential to Illinois soybean farmers. By setting the goals of economic growth and encouraging the progression of technology to enhance soybean production, farmers can capitalize on their soybean story each year. Often, farmers do not comprehend the true reach their soybeans can have after they leave their field, the elevator, and find their way across the ocean.
Celebrating 25 Years
The year 2021 marks the 25th year the Illinois Soybean Association has been involved with the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council (USAPEEC). The Illinois Soybean Association is one of the four longest standing partners of USAPEEC, with involvement reaching back to the inaugural year of 1996. During this time, the Illinois Soybean Association has partnered with USAPEEC on more than 79 projects in 16 different countries.
At first glance, Illinois involvement with poultry may appear farfetched, but Shelby Watson, Manager of Allied Industry Relations at USAPEEC explains, “With poultry being the largest consumer of soybean meal, this surprising consumer utilizes 55% of all soybean meal, more than any other commodity.” Although significant numbers are not raised in Illinois, poultry raised worldwide rely on soybean production here in Illinois.
One of ISA’s funded projects is in Mexico. This particular projects focuses on trade and education where they plan to continue with the intensive post graduate poultry science and processing training program for the Mexican meat processing industry. The training encourages Mexican companies to not only use more U.S. chicken and turkey as a raw ingredient for processing new ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat products, but it will update them on processing, packing and storage technologies that meet international standards. The ultimate goal of this tactic is to provide training and education through a six-module program in the meat and poultry processing plants. Operators then develop value-added poultry products using U.S. poultry.
Watson emphasizes, “This beginning to end approach including multiple state soybean boards along with the United Soybean Board educates meat processing organizations with an all-encompassing course.” Mexico does not currently offer academic courses in meat processing, and therefore, all experience is gained while on the job. USAPEEC meets processing companies no matter the size or advancements utilized by choosing a small number of companies to participate.
Korea is the second project ISA funds. Korea’s market is mature allowing a direct line to consumers to be built. The market is looking to see what products the consumer is willing and interested in purchasing. This strategy focuses on a partnership with breweries and restaurants directly to the customers. During a specific week advertised by USAPEEC, restaurants have a menu promotion of chicken that is heavily advertised to guests. After the promotion, Korean restaurants observe how successful the added menu item was, and oftentimes will add the items to the menu permanently. This alone has opened the doors to many opportunities exporting more poultry to Korea.
USAPEEC’s reach is extensive. From their focus of egg and poultry production to involving countries around the globe, soybeans play a significant role to the success of the organization’s goals. As farmers plant this spring, remember soybeans are a large entity that can change a farm, a community, an individual, an industry, a state, a country, and the world.