USGC: Conference highlights burgeoning markets for US corn, DDGS

By U.S. Grains Council | August 22, 2018

Building industry relationships and developing opportunities for U.S. agriculture in Southeast Asia were the goals of the 2018 Southeast Asia U.S. Agriculture Cooperators Conference in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, cosponsored by the U.S. Grains Council, U.S. Soybean Export Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

“We have a critical opportunity for our industry to discuss and learn from you about how we can partner together to build our industries,” said newly elected USGC Chairman Jim Stitzlein in his welcome remarks at the event. “U.S. farmers know our growth lies beyond our borders, and our success depends on building markets, serving customers, working to achieve better trade policy and engaging with the world. When trade works, the world wins.”

The organizations joined efforts to provide Southeast Asian grain importers with the latest market and industry information on grain trade market trends during the August 2018 conference, fostering U.S. feed grain and oilseed sales into the region.

“This is the premiere conference in Southeast Asia to highlight the market for U.S. corn, distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), corn gluten meal and other corn and soybean coproducts,” said Manuel Sanchez, USGC regional director for Southeast Asia. “Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, and bringing together producers, buyers and end users facilitates trade of these products into the region.”

Top-level importers from the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia as well as exporters from major U.S. trading companies interacted on trade and product issues as well as discussed shifting trade patterns and how to identify opportunities in the market to conduct actual sales. A contingency of U.S. farmers also connected directly with members of the overseas grain trade at the conference.

“Conferences like this allow farmers like myself to get a clear sense of the global grain market,” said John Greer, USGC Asia Advisory Team (A-Team) leader and Nebraska Corn Board member, who traveled to attend the event. “Many of my contemporaries do not have a true sense of where their grain goes once they sell it locally, but coming here, meeting the buyers and getting to know end users gives me a better understanding of just how the value chain works for our industry.

“I do not have the expertise to sell my grain overseas, so I have to rely on the experts I am meeting here to do that for me,” Greer said. “We all have to work with each other to make this potential a reality.”

USGC China Director Bryan Lohmar spoke at the conference to address the status of U.S.-China trade relations, including China’s role in global feed grain markets. He focused on issues of policy, technology, trade and investment as well as his perspective on Chinese internal economics and how the current trade dispute contributes to disruption in the Southeast Asia region.

“There have been trade issues between the United States and China since 2010,” Lohmar said. “However, the Council has been actively working with the feed and livestock industry in China for more than 35 years and sees a tremendous, long-term opportunity to develop a mutually-beneficial relationship between U.S. producers and consumers in China.”

After the conference, Council attendees and staff traveled to Penang, Malaysia, to tour Soon Soon Oil Mills, a diversified, integrated oilseed, grain and oil processing company producing food and feed ingredients. There, the delegation gained insights on the coarse grains market for Southeast Asia and the future outlook for DDGS.

The group then met with executives at Malayan Flour Mill Berhad in Lumut, a regional leader in manufacturing and sales of poultry feeds, aqua feeds and raw materials. The Council is working with MFM on a U.S. corn storage study in Malaysia, conducting research trials in grain storage management to determine the best strategies for tropical weather conditions.

Meetings like the Southeast Asia U.S. Agricultural Cooperators Conference and visits to industry operations allow Council members to connect, learn from each other and facilitate trade. These events contribute to the Council’s belief that exports are vital to global economic development and to U.S. agriculture’s profitability.

Learn more about the Council’s work in Southeast Asia here.