Piggybacking off successful trips to Southeast Asia in January and February, Northern Soy Marketing (NSM) returned to Vietnam and Indonesia to continue building relationships with Vietnamese and Indonesian soy markets. 

Dr. Bob Swick, a poultry nutrition consultant, and Seth Naeve, a University of Minnesota soybean agronomist, represented NSM at the U.S. Soybean Export Council’s (USSEC) Soy Supply Workshop in Surabaya, Indonesia on June 6. Before traveling to Indonesia, Swick conducted trade visits on NSM’s behalf in Vietnam after attending another workshop in Ho Chi Minh City.  

“Vietnam has the largest feed industry in Southeast Asia with large multi-national companies such as De Heus, CP, Japfa Comfeed and Cargill,” Swick said. “While in Ho Chi Minh City, we had excellent interaction with several of those large feed producers.” 

In Vietnam, the feed industry uses about 5 million metric tons (MMT) of soybean meal (SBM), of which a majority is imported from Argentina and purchased based on market availability and price; U.S. SBM is intermittently seen in the market when prices are competitive. Like in many other areas, sustainability is gaining traction in Vietnam, where it’s a priority in the animal production industry and its customers. 

“Further evaluation of how lower crude protein SBM might reduce nitrogenous waste and improves conditions as compared to using lower levels of Brazilian meal should be examined,” Swick said. “Northern-grown beans could play an important role in sustainability and bird and pig welfare issues.” 

After his successful visits in Vietnam, Swick joined Naeve in Indonesia for USSEC’s workshop. 

At the workshop, the United States’ new crushing capacity was highlighted as an opportunity for Southeast Asian markets. An announced 30% increase by 2026 in U.S. crush capacity would result in an influx of more than 16 million tons of U.S. soybean meal (SBM) and over 8 billion pounds of crude soybean oil. However, experts predict that a 20% increase is more realistic, which would place total U.S. SBM at more than 65 million tons and soybean oil at more than 32 billion pounds. 

The information presented by the speakers on upcoming new U.S. crushing capacity, sustainability and cost performance can be further developed and used to convince large Indonesian companies to purchase US meal as their preferred source,” Swick said. 

With eight of the new soybean crush plants located in NSM’s member states, the soybean meal coming out of those plants will be shipped out of the PNW, creating new opportunities for Southeast Asian buyers to purchase U.S. SBM at competitive prices. 

As the world’s fourth largest country, Indonesia will continue to be a huge destination for soybeans. Though Indonesia is nearly 100% loyal to the U.S. for whole bean shipments, its soybean meal market is more price-sensitive. 

“Indonesia imports nearly 2.5 MMT of soybeans for tempeh and tofu from the U.S.,” Naeve said. “These food grade soybeans fill a very important niche in U.S. production and export. Indonesian food soybean purchasers prefer clean, light colored soybeans with low damage and FM. U.S. exporters have been able to deliver containerized shipments of these soybeans to maintain U.S. market share.” 

After the workshop, Swick and Naeve embarked on trade visits with local feed mills. After these visits, Naeve remains confident that northern-grown U.S. soy has a place in Indonesia’s market.  

“I continue to be excited about Indonesia, the Indonesian people and the soybean market there,” Naeve said. “The numerous smart and hardworking people will continue to climb the economic ladder, demanding more animal protein, while looking for more environmentally friendly food options. Both of these trajectories will support U.S. soybean shipments over time.”