WISHH’s USB Initiative Speeds Protein Progress in Emerging Markets

Nov 20, 2020

(From left): Rady Chea, general manager of the first feed mill in Cambodia to add a manufacturing line for fish feed, discusses soy protein with USB Director and WISHH Ex-Officio Member David Williams of Michigan, ASA Director and WISHH Program Committee Member Morey Hill of Iowa, and WISHH Committee Member and Past Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council Chair David Lueck.

A West African feed company owner and his customers liked the U.S. soy the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health program (WISHH) delivered to him through a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded Quality Samples Program. After participating in WISHH feed extrusion training, the entrepreneur made his own soy-based floating fish feed.

So, what’s stopping this 45-employee company from buying U.S. soy for its approximately 10,000 tons of annual production of livestock, poultry and fish feed?

There’s no simple one-size-fits-all solution to overcome obstacles to supply chains in developing and emerging markets. Based on 20 years of experience, WISHH designed its USB-funded initiative to take on these challenges in Africa, Asia, and Latin and Central America. The Mobilizing Entrepreneurs to Expand U.S. Soy Utilization in Developing and Emerging Markets initiative works to compress the time for a new U.S. soybean market to go from emerging market entry to basic market ready. The initiative attracts and mentors entrepreneurs who can invest in developing and emerging market soy enterprises, bringing new market sectors into the U.S. soy market pipeline.

“Soybean checkoff dollars are the core funding that WISHH uses to go out and secure additional resources, such as those available through USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service,” said USB Director David Williams, a Michigan soybean grower who serves as an ex-officio member of the WISHH Program Committee.

USDA provided stage-one funding for WISHH’s USB-funded initiative by supporting WISHH conducting a series of key market assessments in Africa, Asia, Central America and the Dominican Republic. Highlights of WISHH’s USDA-funded market assessments include:


Burkina Faso

  • 100% of the companies that participated in the market assessment have a positive impression of U.S. soy products, but they have limited or no experience using U.S. soy.
  • 100% of the feed mill managers said they need imported soybeans to supplement local soybean production.
  • Foods derived from biotechnology do not require import approval.


  • Solid potential to serve as a hub for regional U.S. soy efforts in West Africa due to proximity to major markets, supply routes to neighboring landlocked countries, and existing port facilities.
  • Reliance on costly prepared animal feed underscores the potential for soymeal.


  • The U.S. and Kenya in February 2020 announced plans to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which would be the U.S.’ first FTA with a sub-Saharan African country.
  • Lack of easy financing options and affordable commercial credit facility for investors has led to an underdeveloped soybean crushing industry.



  • Continued foreign investment in animal feed mills demonstrates the livestock sector is poised for growth.
  • Feed millers prefer the digestibility and consistent quality of U.S. soybean meal but are price sensitive.

Sri Lanka

  • The government wants to increase aquaculture production by strengthening the value-chain links.
  • The growing middle class has positive views on soy foods—meat analogues and snack foods are two opportunities.

Central America and Dominican Republic

Food & Beverage Manufacturers

  • Soy use is growing in foods and beverages—29% of surveyed manufacturers currently produce products using soy.
  • 100% of the surveyed manufacturers are willing to work alongside WISHH and its partners on use of U.S. soy protein ingredients.


  • 59% of distributors and retailers surveyed would consider partnering with a strategic partner to co-invest in marketing and advertising of soy-based products.

End Consumers

  • Central America’s middle-income households will grow by 30% over the next five years.