Pulse Beat Individual Articles

Resilience Takes a Village


Brian Innes, Executive Director, Soy Canada

FOR MANITOBA SOY, we’re living in a time of resilience where strong demand and on-farm performance are nurturing growth and delivering profitability. Coming off record soy yields in 2022, 2023 is showing us the value of resilience.

For Canadian soy, resilience is something we’re seeing right across the country, whether soy is the mainstay of the rotation or a new addition.

Resilience in demand for protein, edible oil, and soy for food manufacturing is delivering continued opportunities for farmers and the whole value chain. We’re seeing this from local processors in Manitoba and North Dakota, as well as from export opportunities overseas.

At Soy Canada, we work with the ingredients of resilience every day. They are visible in the work we do on market access, our work to develop markets, and our work to link the value chain together so that all segments are coordinated and can make the best decisions for their own operations.

On market access, we’re seeing resilience because of a major re-opening of the growing Vietnamese market in September that had been shut to Western Canadian soy since 2019. With Vietnamese soy crush capacity doubling and strong demand for non-GM and food-grade soy continuing, renewed ability to export free of unworkable weed seed tolerances creates new export opportunities.

The path to reopening the market was winding and took a significant step forward with our February 2023 Indo- Pacific mission to Vietnam. Alongside our exporters and producers, including John Preun from St. Andrews, MB, we met with our import partners to explore how we could resolve challenges with creeping thistle that had blocked our market. Many meetings followed and we were pleased to shepherd a solution that works for all crops farmers grow by collaborating with Pulse Canada, Cereals Canada, and the Canola Council.

On market development, we’re seeing resilience because of new research into northern soybean quality revealing that the animal values northern soy differently than how we traditionally measure soy quality using crude protein. In partnership with Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers, our second Northern Soybean Summit in November brought together the latest research, grain handlers, soy processors, and the feed industry. Our work to increase the value of northern soy produced by Manitoba farmers continues.

And we’re also seeing resilience with strong interest in expanding food- grade soy in Manitoba to meet export opportunities for manufacturers of soy foods like soy milk and tofu. While Canada represents only about three per cent of global soy production, we are world leaders and have a significant market share of specialty food-grade soybeans.

Meeting with Dabaco vice chairman Thao Khac Nguyen and his team at their headquarters in Hanoi, Vietnam, Soy Canada delegation members on the right consisting of John Preun, farmer from St. Andrews, MB; Tyler Denham, Snobelen Farms; Albert Lee, Embassy of Canada; Brian Innes, Soy Canada. Photo Credit: Supplied by Soy Canada

Soy Canada is seeing this increased interest with a dramatic growth of food-grade varieties from Manitoban soybean variety trials submitted to our testing program at Agriculture and Agri- food Canada’s Harrow Research and Development Centre. In addition to protein, food manufacturers are often interested in free sugars, sucrose and oligosaccharides, and other factors that determine processing performance. The 2023 variety trials saw a 44 per cent bump in the amount of food-grade samples submitted to the program, a sign that our seed developers and exporters are increasingly interested in increasing the amount of food-grade soy produced in Manitoba.

Our work to support food-grade variety testing across the country helps put new varieties in the hands of farmers quicker – varieties that our seed developers and exporters are confident will meet the needs of food manufacturers that have very specific requirements.

As we look to the future, our focus is firmly on what we know is appearing on the horizon. We’re seeing continuing competitive and market access threats to our exports. We’re seeing a continued need to knit together the entire value chain from seed developers, farmers, grain handlers, and processors. We’re seeing a continued need to share our sustainable production practices with our customers, including having strong data on our carbon intensity for feed manufacturers and biofuel producers.

We see all of this because Manitoba farmers invest their check-off in Soy Canada. It’s a future that promises more resilience, and hopefully, continued growth and prosperity of the crop in the rotations of Manitoba farmers.