SSGA, Industry leaders gather in Vietnam to attend global launch

The U.S. Identity Preserved brand is now officially a global entity.

On Nov. 1, the Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance (SSGA) met in Vietnam with buyers and food producers to introduce its new international mark that designates premium crops with verifiable origins and builds worldwide awareness of the assurance plan that spotlights the superior products derived from the U.S. system.

“(SSGA) is here today to announce a significant certification advancement for food manufacturers to consider when purchasing ingredients for their products,” Executive Director Eric Wenberg said during a livestreamed event from the Saigon Sheraton Hotel & Towers. “We are excited to make this first official announcement in Vietnam because this is an important and growing market for high-quality foods that require high-quality ingredients.”

The U.S. Identity Preserved quality assurance plan and brand mark symbolizes a landmark advancement in the verification of trust, traceability and value for food manufacturers, processors and exporters. Since the brand was unveiled to an American audience in December 2021, a dozen U.S. companies have joined the program and are using the mark – with several more companies currently going through the application and qualification process.

“There’s real excitement about having a mark represent a very special segment of U.S. agriculture and business,” SSGA Manager of Strategic Programs Shane Frederick said. “The mark has purpose and value and assurances that back them up.”

Tuesday’s event attracted 75 officials from across the industry, including the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), which brought a contingent to Vietnam from Myanmar. As well, the international launch was co-sponsored by the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, Wisconsin Marketing Board and Vinamilk, Vietnam’s largest dairy company. On Thursday, the SSGA team tours Vinamilk’s headquarters before flying back to the United States.

“The U.S. Identity Preserved assurance plan and brand mark represents the strict protocols and careful attention to detail that are followed by processors and exporters of high-quality, identity preserved soybeans and grains from the United States,” said Nguygen Quoc Khanh, executive director of research and development with Vinamilk. “These are assurances of quality and food safety that Vinamilk seeks as we purchase the specific varieties of ingredients we require to efficiently manufacture our own high-quality, consistent products that our customers love.”

On Nov. 2, SSGA will offer more presentations on the U.S. Identity Preserved system and go further in depth on the quality, characteristics and performance customers can expect from specialty soybeans and grains from the United States. The program will be emceed by Hoa Huynh, SSGA’s Southeast Asia technical adviser. Panels will feature buyers, industry leaders, SSGA staff and Michigan farmer David Williams, who has grown Identity Preserved soybeans on his sixth-generation farm. Officials from the USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service in Ho Chi Minh City are also expected to attend. A wrap up video of the event’s first day can be viewed here.

“Those of us who grow Identity Preserved field crops understand the importance of providing consistent, high-quality products to our customers,” said Williams, a United Soybean Board director. “It starts on the farm where we put extra work into our production to preserve a variety’s identity.”

The work advancing Identity Preserved has only just begun, as SSGA looks ahead to hosting its next global gathering: the Identity Preserved International Summit Jan. 11-13, 2023 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“The Identity Preserved brand is more than merely a mark,” Wenberg said. “It’s a movement to advance food traceability.”