Foreign buyers seek soybean purchases direct from Illinois farmers


Foreign buyers seek soybean purchases direct from Illinois farmers

Jem Yu and Helen Hou discuss interest in US soybeans with Brownfield’s Rhiannon Branch during the 2022 Illinois Soybean Summit.

An international commodity trading company was at the Illinois Soybean Summit for the first time this year looking to source soybeans directly from farmers.  

Jem Yu is the CEO of Genuine Energy based in Texas. His co-worker Helen Hou translated as he told Brownfield there is high demand from buyers in China for quality non-GMO soybeans coming directly from US farmers.

“We have heard Illinois is one of the best states producing non-GMO soybeans so that is why we are targeting this area. We want to have more connections with farmer suppliers.”

He explains the specifications their partners are looking for. “We are currently looking for US #2 soybeans. We hope the purity of non-GMO is 99.5%, the protein is around 36-37% and the oil is around 18%. We also want the moisture below 13%. Our partners like these specifications because they can further process them to other products after they are imported. We have recently purchased these soybeans from this area, and we like the quality.”

During the event, Yu and his team made a connection with Bryan Severs who runs a 100% non-GMO soybean farm in east central Illinois.

“I was very surprised when they came forward to talk to me. That is the first time I have ever been approached about direct buying, but that is what we in Illinois want to do. We have a great product, and we want to get it to the end user in a timely fashion.”

Severs says he is excited for a potential new market and personal relationships with end users.

Illinois Soybean Association CEO John Lumpe tells Brownfield this is another exciting opportunity for the #1 soybean producing state in the US.

“We have good quality, farmer relationships, sustainability- all of those buzz words that are very important overseas. Sometimes I think we take those lightly as if they aren’t that important, but that is what the end customer wants and if a farmer wants to put in a little extra effort to grow non-GMO beans, there are buyers out there for it.”

The 2022 Illinois Soybean Summit was held in Champaign on Tuesday.

Interview with Jem Yu, translated from Chinese to English by Helen Hou