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U.S. soybean exports to Caribbean increasing

Checkoff-funded market development programs in the Caribbean region are increasing demand for U.S. soybean oil in that region, the United Soybean Board reports.

The marketing efforts by the American Soybean Association center around the use of the ASA Quality Seal on refined and bottled U.S. soybean oil.

According to the United Soybean Board, three large U.S. soybean oil customers in the Caribbean are now using the ASA Quality Seal on refined and bottled soybean oil.

Since the program was initiated in 1999, U.S. soybean oil usage in the Caribbean has grown from 9,000 metric tons (1.8 million bushels) in 1999 to a projected 30,000 metric tons (6.2 million bushels) for 2001, USB says.

U.S. soybean oil in the Caribbean is helping increase U.S. soybean farmers' market share in this very competitive market, says Harold Phillips, the United Soybean Board's Latin America subcommittee chairman.

Phillips, a soybean farmer in Stevenson, Ala., stresses the importance of spending farmers' checkoff dollars to increase the United States' marketshare in the Caribbean region.

“We have a freight and time advantage over South America in this region,” he says. “But, we are sure that if we neglect this region the South American suppliers will gladly move in with large vessels and multiple delivery points to threaten our larger established markets in Mexico and Central America.”

Part of the American Soybean Association's strategy in the region is the promotion of U.S. soybean oil through the use of the ASA Quality Seal on refined and bottled soybean oil.

“We use the soy seal in an effort to assure customers that the oil is a top-quality, properly refined oil, made from U.S.-produced soybeans,” Phillips says.

The checkoff-funded effort also offers technical assistance to refiners to correct any processing problems that have the potential to cause a customer to choose a competing oil over the U.S. oil due to poor shelf life, or off color or odor.

Why is a promotion such as this so important to U.S. soybean growers? Phillips responds, “If we can help to produce a higher quality product, we will sell more U.S. soybeans in the region. In short, the seal assures top quality in the bottle that bears the seal.

“Guaranteeing a top-quality product is the only way we can increase our marketshare against competing oils and in the area of soybean meal for animal feed,” he says.

According to Phillips, the type of marketshare increase the United States is seeing in the Caribbean ultimately will benefit U.S. soybean growers by increasing overall product demand. It could also lead to further development of other untapped soybean markets in Latin America.

He says, “The Dominican Republic has emerged as the number three or four market in the world for U.S. soybean meal exports, at least partly due to their large and growing poultry industry.

“We need to continue to protect and develop these fast-growing nearby markets. To do that, we must continue to exploit whatever advantages we have over Brazil and Argentina in this region,” Phillips says. “The Latin American region offers many opportunities to expand sales of U.S. produced soybeans. They have rapidly growing populations, improving incomes and the need for better nutrition.”

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