Farmers from Minnesota, North and South Dakota broke new ground in Taiwan.
A delegation of farmers and industry experts from the tri-state region were in the island nation not far from mainland China, promoting the presence and balance of essential amino acids as a better way to value soybeans and soybean meal. Soy products have typically been valued based on their crude protein content, which puts northern-grown soybeans at a disadvantage. However, research has shown that the amino acid profile is a better indicator of soybean value.
The group met with leading soybean processors and feed manufacturers to highlight soybean quality from the three Midwestern states, while encouraging the processors to look beyond the crude protein numbers.
Supported by soybean checkoff funds from the Dakotas and Minnesota, the essential amino acids (EAA) message has been delivered across much of southeast Asia for several years. While it’s not new to the region, it is the first time it’s being promoted in Taiwan.
“The feed market here in Taiwan is smaller than what we’ve seen in China, but I think it’s a very active and progressive market,” says Patrick O’Leary, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council vice chair and farmer from the Benson area. “There’s a lot of potential here.”
“This is the first time we’ve presented the amino acid message here and it seems to be going over well,” says Casselton, North Dakota, farmer Joe Morken. “It’s like they want to ask questions, but they’re not sure what to ask yet.”
Taiwan’s overall feed production is about 7 million metric tons per year according the Julian Lin, of the U.S. Soybean Export Council. Production is split evenly between poultry and swine production at between 40-45 percent each, with aqua feed making up the remaining 15 percent.
Currently, Lin says about 57 percent of the soybeans entering Taiwan are from the U.S., or about 1.4 million metric tons. Total Taiwan import volume is 2.63 million metric tons. Brazil has about 39 percent of the market, while Canada, Argentina and Paraguay also export to Taiwan.
Despite the fact that the Taiwan market is relatively small, the EAA delegation planted seeds that they hope will lead to more purchases of meal from Minnesota and the Dakotas.
“Our mission here is start getting them to rethink how they’re looking at the nutritive aspects of the soybean and the protein. Instead of looking at the crude protein, diving a little deeper and looking at the amino acids as a marketing tool both for us and for them,” O’Leary adds.
“The fact that after this last visit, the company we met doesn’t buy one bean out of the Pacific Northwest, they’re staying on the Gulf and Brazil, just shows us the work that still needs to be done,” Morken says.
The delegation wrapped up their nearly two-week long mission to China and Taiwan on July 29.