‘Gateway to normal”: Global Trade Exchange returning as in-person/virtual hybrid event

For more than a year, the world has been hoping and waiting to get back to normal. That’s finally starting to happen this summer.

For people in the soybean and specialty grains industries, normal includes getting together for the GTE – the U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange & Specialty Grains Conference, which, in 2019, brought together more than 800 guests from 50 different countries.

In 2020, those numbers grew to more than 1,000 people from 60 countries. However, because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, that version of the GTE was held virtually, forcing attendees to go online to take in a robust agenda of video presentations and virtual farm tours, trade exhibits and other features.

“We promised that we’d deliver the next best thing to being together in one geographical location by creating a unique online space for us all to gather virtually. I believe we did that,” said Eric Wenberg, executive director of the Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance, which co-hosts the GTE with the U.S. Soybean Export Council.

Nothing beats meeting face to face, though, and Aug. 24-26 the GTE will return in person with a show in St. Louis. The event, appropriately themed “Gateway to U.S. Soy,” will be held at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch, located just a few steps from the famed Gateway Arch.

“For many people, this will be the first major industry event they will be traveling for in over a year and a half,” Wenberg said. “It will be a sort-of soy family reunion, and we can’t wait!”

Understanding that not everyone is able to travel quite yet, the 2021 GTE won’t be 100% in person. Organizers are putting together a hybrid event, allowing for people around the world to still participate virtually. Sessions will be scheduled to accommodate different regions and time zones and make the experience worthwhile no matter how or from where one attends.

Northern Soy Marketing, a checkoff-funded group representing Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, will also have a presence at the GTE. NSM aims to increase the visibility and global demand for northern grown U.S. soybeans by encouraging and educating the soybean marketplace (international buyers) to recognize essential amino acids concentration, rather than crude protein (CP), as the most complete and best indicator of soybean quality and feeding value.

The GTE is an event for people representing all facets of the soy and specialty grains industries, including exporters and agribusiness officials; international buyers and traders of food and commodity soybeans and grains; ocean, rail, trucking and other shipping, logistics and transportation officials; grain elevator  managers and directors; processors and equipment manufacturers; farmers and state and national agricultural organization leaders; state and federal agriculture and transportation officials; ag researchers; and others interested in international ag trade and food trends.

For the latest information, including an up-to-date agenda and registration information, go to ussoygte.org.

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