WISHH’s work is on the right track for U.S. soy in Central America. Two new USDA reports feature Guatemala and El Salvador as important countries for U.S. agriculture even as the countries face the challenges of COVID-19. WISHH’s ongoing strategies in the countries capitalize on the opportunities to grow U.S. soy’s presence in human foods.
USDA’s Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report on Guatemala states, “Guatemala is one of the top food processing countries in Central America. U.S. suppliers have a good opportunity to export bulk commodities and raw materials for further processing in Guatemala’s food industry. In 2020, Guatemalan export sales of processed foods to the world were $2.9 billion, and despite the pandemic, the food and beverage sector in Guatemala increased its exports by 2.8 percent from 2019. This sector represented 3.8 percent of total GDP.”
The USDA report specifically recognizes opportunities for soy in Guatemalan beverages as well as snacks; two of the sectors where WISHH has not let COVID-19 stop virtual work with key food and beverage manufacturers. When COVID-19 restrictions blocked travel and more, WISHH launched online technical assistance, supporting three times the number of companies typically served using the in-person training approach.
The trainings build on WISHH’s 2019 USDA Agricultural Trade Promotion-funded market assessment. WISHH’s research revealed that nearly half of Central American and Dominican Republic key food and beverage manufacturing executives surveyed would invest their own capital into equipment and expand their businesses if WISHH could provide them with technical assistance/training and outline the cost benefits of incorporating soy protein ingredients.
USDA’s GAIN report on El Salvador references the Salvadoran Industrialists Association’s latest industry statistics (2019) that shows, “food imports registered a total of $882.6 million, which is 17.6% more than in 2018. It is notable that despite the pandemic, which hit most economic sectors hard, El Salvador’s food industry continued steady operations.”
Furthermore, new Salvadoran Government regulations ban fatty/salty snacks and carbonated beverages at schools. USDA reports the policy opens opportunities for U.S. soybeans as a healthier option.