Each month, I receive inquiries from overseas soybean buyers seeking help in purchasing U.S. soybeans or soy products. I match those inquiries with potential Minnesota exporters of the soybeans/soy products sought, then later help arrange and host visits to Minnesota farms of some of the same buyers.
Some of those inquiries raise an eyebrow, either when they seek an unusual soy product, such as fullfat soybean meal, or when they come from an unusual country such as Iran.
But I was pleased to see subsequent public reports that Iran had become the single largest importer of U.S. soybeans during the month of August; which was especially heartening due to the recent decline in U.S. soy exports to the former largest importer, China.
It was initially difficult to confirm because U.S. soybeans can be exported without having to name the destination country immediately. In those cases, the U.S. soybean exporter is allowed to write “UNKNOWN” DESTINATION on the initial U.S. government export-reporting paperwork. However, within a few days after shipment, the exporter must tell the United States Department of Agriculture the destination to ensure soy market transparency.
During early September, it was reported 125,000 MT of U.S. soybeans had been exported. It was then reported these soybeans were exported to Iran in early September.
Iran continued importing U.S. soybeans during the month of September at a pace that could potentially again make it the largest single country of import. We will see when all the September “unknowns” become known in October.
Kim Nill is Minnesota Soybean’s director of market development and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-388-1635.