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EUROPE Economics drive U.S. soybean sales By Matthew Wilde
he U.S. has an opportunity to significantly increase soybean market share in the European Union (EU) but significant challenges exist. Ten Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) board members and Market Development Director Grant Kimberley participated in a two-week EU Learning Opportunities Mission in late July. The group met with government officials, soybean buyers, industry stakeholders and farmers to learn about food needs, build relationships and highlight U.S. sustainability practices. ISA leaders say conditions are ripe for the U.S. to sell more soybeans and soybean meal in the continent. “We didn’t hear specifics, but they (EU officials) did talk about increasing imports from the United States,” says ISA past President Bill Shipley of Nodaway. “We were well received.” Stops included Ireland, the U.K., Denmark, Hungary and Austria.
22 | OCTOBER 2018 | IASOYBEANS.COM
An oilseed analyst for Rabobank International predicts the U.S. will likely supplant Brazil as the EU’s No. 1 soy provider. Early indicators are promising. The E.U. released soy import data for July on Aug. 1. U.S. sales to date compared to July 2017 are as follows: • Whole soybeans increased 283 percent to 360,000 metric tons (13.2 million bushels). • U.S. soybean market share in the EU is at 37 percent, up from 9 percent. • Soybean meal is on the rise — 185,000 metric tons were imported in July, a 3,337 percent increase. • The U.S. is now supplying 13 percent of EU soybean meal imports, up from .3 percent. “The European Union can import more soybeans from the U.S. and this is happening,” says EU President Jean-Claude Juncker in a statement. “This is a winwin situation for European and American citizens.”
An EU-U.S. joint statement says they will work together to increase trade, including soybeans and remove tariffs and non-tariff barriers for mutual benefit. While the agreement is good, ISA’s EU delegation says economics are the reason for the recent, and likely future, increase in U.S. soy exports to the 28-nation trading bloc. U.S. soybeans are more affordable due to the U.S.China trade dispute. “We know it’s simply the result of market forces at work,” says Benno van der Laan, an ISA and U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) consultant who accompanied the ISA contingent. Kimberley adds, “It’s always a good thing to see the EU and the U.S. work together on trade. Even though economic factors (are the driving force), there’s a conscious effort to grow soy imports.”