Air Cargo Quarterly
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Study finds Soybeans maintain quality in containers
A growing number of soybean customers choose to import soybeans via containers to take advantage of specific characteristics, such as high protein, oil or grade factor. A recent HYPERLINK “http://www.ilsoy.org/isa/transportation/key-transportation-research/“checkoff-funded study sponsored by the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) confirms customer expectations for a certain type of product are well met, as soybean quality does not depreciate between loading and unloading.
This and findings from related studies could impact Illinois soybean farmer returns, according to Ken Eriksen, senior vice president of Informa Economics, Inc., the firm that conducted Quality Analysis of Containerized Illinois Soybean Shipments along with the Illinois Crop Improvement Association. Results imply containerized soybeans can reach smaller customers abroad quickly and with quality intact.
“Showing that quality is preserved creates confidence on the receiver’s side that the product will meet grade and quality for the customer’s end use,” says Eriksen. “This allows shippers to market higher quality and secure higher prices, which will trickle down to the farmer.”
Currently, container shipments make up about eight percent of Illinois soybean exports. Containers are an efficient and effective method to move soybeans to markets in Asia and Europe that cannot accept bulk shipments, increasing profitability for Illinois soybean farmers, he says.
Paul Rasmussen, soybean farmer from Genoa, Ill., and ISA director says the study results reiterate that soybean farmers must grow with the customer in mind.
“End users—including the growing number of customers abroad who import containerized beans—determine price,” says Rasmussen. “Delivering the highest quality we can to the elevator will increase our bottom lines.”
Study Explored What Happens En Route
Quality doesn’t just mean foreign matter and grade, says Rasmussen. Researchers measured 20 quality variables at the origin and destination for eight shipments of Illinois soybeans to Asia. Factors such as protein and oil, grade, weight and moisture were measured at origin and destination. While differences were recorded, researchers conclude quality is largely maintained during containerized transit.
For example, moisture content of the destination samples ranged from 1.6 percentage points higher to 3.9 percentage points lower than at the origin. Also, temperature and humidity inside the containers fluctuate greatly during transit, but did not affect overall quality.
Other factors, including oil, protein, sugar content, amino acids, and fatty acids, had no meaningful changes from origin to destination.
Shipments were exported to Japan, Taiwan and Indonesia in August 2012, with travel times ranging from 24 to 70 days. The 17 samples included a mix of bagged product, cleaned and bagged product, and bulk soybeans.
Researchers conclude the cleaned and bagged shipments generally resulted in fewer observed differences in quality characteristics than the bulk shipments, yet in all shipments the quality was preserved very well.
A quality analysis study for non-containerized shipments has not yet been conducted.
“With a unique combination of high-quality soybeans and world-class logistics infrastructure, Illinois soybean farmers are positioned to capitalize on containerized exports,” says Rasmussen.
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