Prograin: soybean expertise and production that’s recognized worldwide
Prograin has been a respected leader in the Canadian soybean industry for more than 30 years. But in recent years, our influence has also expanded overseas to Europe and Asia.
We spoke with Jérôme Duclau, our Sales Manager for Europe, to learn more about Prograin’s global role and business operations.
Hello, Jérôme. Where are Prograin’s foreign subsidiaries located?
Prograin has three foreign subsidiaries, all located in Europe. We have Prograin Zia in the Czech Republic, Prograin/Sevita in Russia and a third Prograin subsidiary in Ukraine. I’m based in France but am directly affiliated with Prograin Canada.
What is the international reputation of Canadian soybeans?
Canadian soybeans have a solid reputation abroad, in particular because they are faster-maturing than North and South American soybeans.
Prograin’s breeding programs are more oriented toward the food-grade soybean market. We produce soybeans that are recognized and appreciated for their high protein content.
What defines the European market?
Soybeans for animal feed dominate the European market, but the market share of food-grade soybeans is growing to keep up with the demand for plant-based food.
In the West, i.e. the European Union (formerly known as EU-27), markets are well structured and organized, and seeds have a high value.
Eastern countries, like Russia and Ukraine, have more of a Wild West approach. Agroholdings dictate market conditions and these in turn override any attempt at regulation.
What was the biggest challenge that you overcame in 2021?
Across the market, the main challenge has been to allocate the tight seed supply and contending with very high prices, which is unusual.
It is important to know that rising demand for soybean seeds has played a role in driving up prices. Soy crop prices are also soaring as their benefits become more widely recognized, like the fact that they do not require nitrogen fertilizers.
We also had to grapple with Europe’s policies that promote legume crop development with the goal of reaching protein self-sufficiency.
And what do you think will be the biggest challenge for you personally in 2022?
My first priority will be to oversee our change of direction in Russia, where our quasi-monopolistic distributor poses certain challenges.
The second challenge will be to forge new partnerships in the Eastern EU-27 countries to solidify our standing.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Prograin proves that family businesses can still compete in this industry, where agrochemical giants operate and money drives the number of microplots sown.
After working for two multinational companies in the field, I can once again focus on this realm of possibilities, great ideas and pragmatic solutions.
Thank you for telling us more about Prograin’s international reach, Jérôme!