ASA/WISHH Kicks Off Busy Summer for International Trade Teams

Jul 27, 2022

Nebraska Soybean Board Chairman Doug Saathoff hosts ASA/WISHH’s trade team—seven food company leaders from Sri Lanka and one from Ghana. WISHH used USDA funds to give the company reps a firsthand look at the quality of U.S. soy and introduce them to innovative ways to use soy in cereals, snacks and more.

Trade teams are heating up this summer with the help of ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health program. In May, the Nebraska Soybean Board hosted its first WISHH trade team, inviting Asian and African soyfood company leaders to learn more about U.S. soy firsthand. The event drew local T.V. and other media coverage.

NSB Chairman Doug Saathoff hosted the team on his farm, where he demonstrated the quality, safety and sustainability of U.S. soy for the international trade team’s food products. Those participants said the experience provided insight into the quality of U.S. soy and new ways to use soy in cereals, snacks and more.

One business leader who participated is Ariyasinghe Samaranayake, a general manager of the largest food manufacturer in Sri Lanka. Samaranayake, along with his fellow trade team members, toured an Ag Processing Inc. processing plant before participating in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Food Processing Center Extrusion Workshop.

“The entire process was very helpful,” Samaranayake said. “What WISHH has done for our team is invaluable. Soon we hope to purchase U.S. soy for our needs as our business continues to grow at such a high rate. Our understanding of the quality of U.S. soy convinced us to move forward!”

WISHH used USDA Emerging Markets Program and Market Access Program funding to support the trade team.

Samaranayake isn’t the only South Asian food company leader who found the trade team important to their innovation and growth strategies. Suranga Abeysekera’s company, Janrich, already purchases U.S. soy flour from a WISHH strategic partner—Benson Hill. She praised the extrusion course for highlighting the production of high-moisture, textured soy protein (TSP), a process Janrich hopes to replicate.

“We are already pleased with the U.S. soy we are purchasing,” Abeysekera said. “I’m taking multiple samples of TSP home so that our team can understand the quality. This will help us move forward profitably.”

West African-based Yedent Agro CEO Samuel Ntim Adu is a long-time WISHH strategic partner who uses soy protein to make nutritious fortified foods. Collaboration with WISHH helped him expand his company to also produce animal feeds made with soy. Ntim Adu hopes to further extend into the household retail market with foods made with TSP. WISHH is helping his company overcome the challenges of new product formulation and introduction.

“WISHH continues to bring so much knowledge to our business,” Ntim Adu said. “Through WISHH, this trade team convinced me that I am on the right path. The connection to other WISHH partners who are ahead of what we want to do is invaluable.”

The connections were so fruitful that Yedent Agro is sending several of its production staff to Sri Lanka to learn more about soy extrusion and take that knowledge back to Ghana. The CEO explained how these trade teams help push a reliable supply of affordable foods that meet protein demands in his country.

“Good, quality protein is rare and expensive for us. WISHH is making it more affordable and helps us deliver good quality food and feed to our customers,” Ntim Adu explained. “One thing has become clear to me after this trip; we must strengthen our ties with ASA/WISHH as we bring better products to the market.