Virtual Conference Gathers Southeast Asian Buyers For Personal Interactions With DDGS Suppliers

Due to the expansive geography of Southeast Asia and the cultural norms leaning toward face-to-face business dealings, the U.S. Grains Council’s Southeast Asia office, in partnership with the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), organized and held the fourth annual Agricultural Supply Chain Conference on Jan. 18 and 19, 2022.

The virtual conference featured webinar-style presentations and a digital trade show during which Council members could network with customers and end-users of grains across Southeast Asia. As in-person interaction was not possible, this virtual platform served as the next best thing. The platform allowed for one-on-one meetings, virtual supplier booths, and a section for relevant hard resources customers could review and download. Suppliers were able to distribute their contact details to the industry’s new faces, which was critical as COVID-19-related employee movement occurred across the region.

U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand and USSEC CEO Jim Stutter kicked off the event by welcoming attendees. Ambassador Gregg Doud, the former chief agricultural negotiator at the United States Trade Representative’s office, was the keynote speaker for the event, after which a global panel of subject-matter experts gave presentations and answered questions from the 522 attendees. During the conference, attendees heard from a variety of speakers on topics including corn crop field production, market outlooks for U.S. corn and co-products, and the use of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) in animal feed. Other topics included the state of the global supply chain, world consumer trends, managing risk exposure, and grain transportation.

Ultimately, the event helped mitigate Southeast Asian buyers’ concerns regarding the U.S. supply chain and transportation constraints amid worldwide shipping volatility, in addition to allowing U.S. suppliers and regional end-users to strengthen new and existing relationships. The Council believes in-person interaction is still the best mode of effective promotion and execution of exports, but virtual engagement has helped the organization maintain contact with our regional stakeholders and facilitate real trade.

The Council invested $56,000 in MAP funds to support this virtual webinar series. As a result, participants recorded purchasing 50,000 metric tons of DDGS during the event, valued at $12.2 million dollars, which resulted in a return on investment of $217 per $1 of MAP funds invested.