WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. – Having achieved U.S. soybean farmer strategic goals for market growth, the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (ASA/WISHH) transitioned its Bangladesh country programs to the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), the ASA said on Dec. 9.

USSEC will now build on WISHH’s work in Bangladesh, and will work in both the feed and food sectors.

“Demand for U.S. soy protein has taken off in this South Asian country that is the eighth most populous country in the world,” said WISHH Program Committee Chairman Lucas Heinen, a Kansas soybean grower. “Soybean growers planned for such success when they created WISHH as a trailblazer for trade through long-term demand building in developing countries.”

Bangladesh is home to more than 168 million people and has a rapidly growing middle-class economy. The country has purchased more than $500 million of U.S. soy in the last five years with those purchases accelerating in the last couple of years.

“We are excited by Bangladesh’s potential. There is real opportunity in this market for U.S. soy as poultry and fish consumption continues to rise,” said USSEC Chairman Laura Foell, an Iowa soybean farmer.

The U.S. soy family has been conducting programs in Bangladesh since 1999 with WISHH taking the lead since 2010. Through their check off programs, state soybean organizations supported WISHH’s work in Bangladesh, which has included a variety of educational programs with food companies and their trade associations. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) programs also played a key role in introducing the benefits of soy protein to the South Asian market.

USDA funding aided WISHH in forging key relationships with organizations like the Bangladesh Auto Biscuit and Bread Manufacturer’s Association that signed a February agreement to conduct soy flour baking trials under a USDA Quality Samples Program.

Pakistan, the sixth most populous country in the world, is the next market that WISHH will transition to USSEC. Planning and coordination discussions have begun for a 2017 transfer.

WISHH is a trade-development program, headquartered at the ASA in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. Since U.S. soybean farmers founded WISHH in 2000, it has worked in 24 countries to develop long-term markets for U.S. soybean farmers while fueling economic growth and value chain development.

USSEC aims to maximize the use of U.S. Soy internationally by differentiating and building a preference for U.S. soy while also keeping trade lanes open so international buyers have full market access to U.S. soy. The organization uses a global team of 130 members that work with numerous stakeholders including soybean farmers, exporters, agribusinesses, agricultural organizations, researchers and government agencies, to accomplish that mission.