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7-Business: U.S. needs to pay attention to customers of soybeans



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TITLE:  U.S. needs to pay attention to customers
SOURCE: AgriNews, USA, by Janet Kubat Willette
        http://webstar.agrinews.com/agrinews/284138317122220.bsp
DATE:   30 Aug 2005

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


U.S. needs to pay attention to customers

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- The United States needs to start listening to its
customers if it wants to remain a player in the soybean export market, a
soyfoods industry expert said at last week's Midwest Specialty Grains
Conference.

Peter Golbitz, president of Soyatech of Bar Harbor, Maine, said the
demand for soybeans is increasing around the world, but the United
States' share of that market is decreasing because U.S. farmers aren't
growing what the world's consumers want. Other countries are filling the
need with a quality product at a cheaper price.

If the U.S. soybean industry wants to be a player, Golbitz said, it needs
to invest in food-grade soybeans and adjust its attitude. The United
States can no longer be the bully that tells other nations what they have
to buy, but instead it must compete with other regions, particularly
South America, to deliver the highest quality product at the lowest
possible cost with transparency throughout the system.

"There's really no excuse in today's market not to give the consumer what
he wants," Golbitz said.

World soybean production has skyrocketed by more than 500 percent in the
last 40 years, he said, making soybeans the world's largest protein and
oil crop.

The crop changed dramatically in 1996 when U.S. farmers began planting
Roundup Ready beans. Now, 86 percent of U.S. soybeans are genetically
modified. Eight to 9 percent are food-grade soybeans and 5 percent to 6
percent are feed and seed.

If any more GMO soybeans are grown, the United States will be out of the
food-grade market, Golbitz said, and may have to import to meet U.S.
consumer demand.

The potential world market for specialty soybeans is estimated at 13.4
million metric tons for 2005, worth $3 billion to $3.5 billion. The U.S.
share of this market is expected to be about $1.6 billion, 10 percent of
the value of the nation's soybean crop.

Asia is the largest and most significant market for food-grade soybeans,
Golbitz said.

The dropping U.S. marketshare shows that the nation hasn't been paying
attention to its customers' needs and isn't seeing export customers as
buyers with specific needs and concerns.

He challenged the conference attendees to lead the nation in becoming a
leader in the development of identity-preserved and specialty grain. The
United States must consider producers' futures above those of multi-
national agribusinesses.

"I don't think the American farmers' interests are being looked out for,"
he said.

The nation also needs to modernize its storage and grain terminals and
expand railroad transportation.






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