Northern Soy Marketing conducted a research study in Q4’22 across Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, to better understand:

  • Key considerations of buyers making purchase decisions regarding essential amino acids versus crude protein.
  • Buyer/importer/nutritionist knowledge and usage of essential amino acids and critical amino acid value (CAAV) metric.
  • Prevailing perceptions of soybean meal from different country origins.

Spire Research and Consulting engaged 50 research participants including animal farmers, importers, feed manufacturing companies, trade brokers, animal nutritionists and industry experts throughout the three countries. We worked closely with NSM throughout the study to provide insights.

CAAV ranks low in the key considerations ladder.

Critical Amino Acid Value (metric) is currently not a key criterion for buyers in Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam when making purchase decisions. Price is of paramount importance to buyers while crude protein remains the go-to metric to understand soybean meal quality. Other considerations include standards and certifications like the COA (Certificate of Analysis) and the country of origin for the soybean meal.

The prevailing notion in Thailand and Indonesia is that South American soybean meal is comparatively higher in protein and more affordable than USA soybean meal. Buyers believe that higher crude protein will always lead to higher amino acids and provide a better feed profile for the animals. They often add supplements or other protein-rich ingredients to make up the amino acid profile.

Buyers in Indonesia were aware of the importance of amino acids in the absorption of the feed and digestibility of protein, but largely unaware of the metric CAAV. Meanwhile, Vietnamese buyers lack knowledge regarding amino acids and thus, do not consider them a key metric for purchase decisions.

Many buyers showed an inclination to better understand CAAV as a metric when provided with an illustration of how it is a reliable measure to gauge soybean meal quality.

Experts understand the importance of essential amino acids.

Experts maintained that the presence and balance of amino acids were more important for the growth of the animal than the overall crude protein value. A common thread from most experts followed that a higher concentration of essential amino acids leads to less time taken for the animal to grow and mature. A few experts also stated that crude protein value can often be inflated by sellers using urea.

Experts also seemed to better understand CAAV and its value as a nutritional metric but stated that buyers often overlook this owing to various reasons such as a more taxing calculation method and a simple lack of knowledge or willingness to dive down to such a level of analysis. There seems to be a knowledge gap between experts and buyers on how to value animal feed ingredients and buyers often opt to focus on very basic parameters. Many experts agreed that external factors such as soil type also play a role in determining soybean meal quality, however, one of the experts in Thailand stated regions closer to the equator and warmer may produce better quality soybean meal.

Opportunity to increase awareness in Southeast Asia.

Overall, the awareness of CAAV is low amongst buyers in Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. However, there is potential to aid buyers and experts to make better purchase decisions. There is a willingness to better understand the metric and its benefits. Helping buyers understand the importance of essential amino acids and CAAV can help boost demand for USA soybean meal in these countries. Experts, on the other hand, are more informed on the importance of essential amino acids in animal feed and growth and can help influence the buyers to look beyond just price and crude protein. Awareness of essential amino acids as a better indicator of quality than crude protein is above 80% across the three countries amongst experts and nutritionists.

Key next steps

Continue outreach work in Asia. Work with research and marketing stakeholders to produce proof points and research that state why buy northern grown soybeans rich in essential amino acids. Use these proof points in marketing tools and collateral that allow both buyers and nutritionists to understand the value of essential amino acids. Finally develop a few key lead case studies in a few countries that highlight customers using northern grown soy and why it was selected.

Northern Soy Marketing and its representatives have already taken steps to promote CAAV in countries. Trade missions and informative seminars have been held in Thailand and Indonesia to illustrate the significance of CAAV as a measure of quality in soybean meal. These seminars included buyers and experts alike as Northern Soy Marketing touched upon the value of soybean meal as a feed ingredient, the importance of essential amino acids and the superiority of USA soybean meal over its counterparts.