International food marketers visit Pope County farm

International entrepreneurs and marketers from the food industry visited a soybean farm in Lowry before completing a course on the soy industry at the Northern Crops Institute in Fargo, N.D.

The trade team learned about the production and storage of U.S. soybeans, equipment used and current status of the 2019 growing season, all while having the opportunity to meet and network with a Minnesota soybean farmer. The team included representatives from Sri Lanka, Ghana, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

Zach Johnson, his father, Nathan, and family hosted the trade team on their Pope County farm. Hosting trade teams is one way Minnesota soybean farmers continue to build relationships with overseas customers and build a preference for Minnesota soy.

Pope County farmer Zach Johnson speaks with international food marketers during a trade team visit at his farm in Lowry.

“Agriculture is a global economy, so it’s really important to maintain our relationships with the end users of our product,” said Johnson, who serves on the Pope County Corn and Soybean Growers board. “I enjoyed having the trade team visit my family’s farm and building that connection.”

One participant from Ghana has purchased soy isolates for six years for her company to make soy milk, but this farm visit was the first time she had ever held soybeans.

“Even though I’ve seen photos of many soybeans and farms, this was the first time I had the chance to visit a farm and see soybeans up close,” the participant said. “This was a very cool experience to see how the crops are grown.”

After the farm visit, the attendees completed an introductory course on many aspects of the soy industry, including new ideas for soy-based foods and snack foods, soy as a supplement to fortify foods, soy as animal nutrition and an overview of soy production in the U.S.

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