Farmer-leaders of the United Soybean Board and American Soybean Association met recently in Chicago for the 2007 U.S. Soy Industry Strategic Planning Conference. At the top of their agenda was discussion on how to best leverage checkoff dollars as well as future international marketing efforts.
A new marketing plan was approved that will focus international marketing efforts on a product-based strategy. This plan diverged from past efforts, which had been concentrated on marketing to specific countries or geographical regions. During the conference, board members also began the process of allocating funds for these international market development programs. This new product-based approach will be implemented in fiscal year 2009.
"This new approach to international marketing will allow us to better position U.S. soy overseas," says Terry Ecker, USB International Marketing chair and soybean farmer from Elmo, Mo. "By focusing on developing markets for different product segments of U.S. soybeans, we will be able to more accurately identify the specific needs of international buyers and then respond accordingly by allocating checkoff funds to meet these needs."
The new product-based marketing strategy will be broken down into three categories: commodity soy, value-enhanced soy and global issues management.
The commodity soy-marketing category will consist of overseas customers who are interested in buying bulk amounts of U.S. soybeans for use in things such as aquaculture or livestock and poultry production. The value-enhanced category will focus marketing efforts on customers interested in U.S. soybeans with superior traits.
The global issues marketing category will focus on gaining market access for products that are not yet accepted in certain markets. Industry leaders will accomplish this by further developing business relationships with foreign countries to highlight the benefits of buying U.S. soybeans. Global issues such as sustainability, biotech acceptance and transportation issues will also be addressed through this new marketing category.
"This new strategy will hopefully provide a greater return on investment for U.S. soybean farmers," Ecker says. "This new product-oriented focus will enable marketing efforts to focus on promoting U.S. soy products, not just soybeans in general."