African Soybean Markets

Council Invests in Sub-Sahara African Region Market

In an effort to develop a new soybean market, the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC ) has again committed funds toward the Sub-Sahara Africa region.

This market development project, in conjunction with the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), is being called the Minnesota Soy Protein Promotion in Africa. The organization has been devoted to this market for a few years now and is beginning to see the results.

The program that the MSR&PC is partnering on uses the funds to facilitate development of a soy products supply chain from Minnesota, where the soybeans are processed, to a region of Africa that is protein deficient.

Bread and bakery goods are a diet staple in the region, which includes Republic of South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal and other Sub-Saharan African countries, allowing soy protein isolates/concentrates and soy flour to fit very well into their diets. These soy products in turn provide the protein needed for the people in that region.

The MSRPC sees this as a great market to target with their soybean products because as the region and development grow, so does the demand for protein in foods that are already a staple. A CHS plant in Mankato is one of a small number in the United States that produces these products, having a direct impact on the demand for soybeans grown by Minnesota’s farmers.

“It is like entering the workforce, you don’t start at the top but work your way up from the bottom,” American Soybean Association and Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) Director Ron Bunjer said. “We did it 30 years ago with China and now they are a large consumer of our soybeans. We need to expand and target areas that can benefit from our product and expand our markets.”

As part of the program, which is also funded by the USDA Foreign Ag Services Emerging Market Program, bakers and business owners travel to the Northern Crops Institute in Fargo, N.D., to take a baking course where they learn how to incorporate U.S. soy flour into their baked goods. Groups also visit the CHS facility in Mankato. In 2014, nine bakers and business owners from Burkina Faso and Cote d’ Ivoire were sponsored for the program.

As a result of last year’s funding, over 665 metric tons of defatted soy flour alone have been exported to Africa, primarily from Mankato, since January 2014. Other products totaled over 470 metric tons in additional exports. Over the number of years MSR&PC has supported this project and region, a number of trade delegations have visited farmers in the state and several companies have become monthly importers of CHS soy products. 

“If we don’t promote our soybeans, who will do it? The reason we have to keep promoting our soybeans is because if we don’t, we risk losing our market share to South America,” Bunjer said. “We need to keep letting our market know the value of our soybeans, which includes amino acids.”

This is an important project as we build markets for the future and this is a high value export product, Sam Ziegler, Minnesota Soybean Director of Market Programs, said. He also says that as we get bakers to access our market, others follow, so the impact continues to grow.