USSEC Leads Soybean Oil Marketing Trip to Mexico and Costa Rica
The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) led a soybean oil marketing mission to the U.S.’s two biggest soy oil buyers, Mexico and Costa Rica, between August 16 and 21.
The purpose of the mission was to develop potential future export opportunities in the region, which is U.S. soy oil’s largest exporting destination, identify market factors that are impacting the competiveness of U.S. soy oil, and to develop actions and market development activities that will result in the increased value and volume of U.S. soy oil exports.
The team included USSEC Marketing Director – Human Nutrition/Oil, Marypat Corbett, Marketing Assistant – Human Nutrition/Oil, Jelena Smojver, Regional Commercial, Technical & Marketing Director – MENA Mousa Wakileh, USSEC Regional Director – Americas, Francisco de la Torre, USSEC Regional Marketing Director – Americas Nayeli Villanova, and USSEC consultants, Pedro Gonzalez, and Mark Anderson, along with United Soybean Board (USB) directors Jim Domagalski of Michigan, Dallas Wright of Delaware, Jay Myers of North Dakota, and Belinda Burrier of Maryland, and American Soybean Association (ASA) director, Ron Moore of Illinois.
The team attended an orientation on the retail vegetable oil sector in both Mexico and Costa Rica including visits to various retail grocery stores from warehouse-style big-box stores to small corner shops, called ‘chicos’, giving the team insight into the scale and scope of the vegetable oil market in the region.
“The competition [between oils] is unbelievably huge in both countries,” said USSEC Marketing Director – Human Nutrition/Oil, Marypat Corbett, “ Some vegetable oil aisles were over 50 feet long and had shelves that were 6 feet high – full of vegetable oils. They contained soy and soy blends, solid palm oil and liquid blends, canola and blends, sunflower and blends, and olive oil. The containers ranged in size from 2 pints to 4 gallons.”
The team made note of the differences in soybean oil labeling between the U.S. and Costa Rica’s market, where positive health benefit claims of soy oil are included in the labeling including endorsements from cardiac health and diabetes associations.
The team also met with the two largest U.S. soy oil buyers during the trip, during which the team learned of the companies’ desire for the U.S. to begin labeling soybean oil as such in U.S. grocery stores instead of vegetable oil, and of the great interest in the availability of high oleic soybean oil, as they see it as a means to compete against South American soybean oils and canola and sunflower high oleic oil.