LAMBERTON - Gerald Uygongco wanted to give his customers a chance to see where his product comes from.
This week, Uygongco along with a group of his customers from the Philippines, is touring the Midwest before moving onto Seattle, Wash., to see the soybean production process.
Uygongco owns the La Filipina Uygongco Corporation, a company in the Philippines that imports U.S. grown soybean meal and sells it to customers through out the Philippines.
Uygongco said he deals exclusively with U.S.-produced soybean products, something unique in the Philippines.
"Back home I'm the only U.S. meal loyalist," said Uygongco. "One of the major issues is the South American meal guys tend to compete with price.
"The question comes now, the people that use meal know the U.S. meal is much better than the South American (product), they would like to get a handle on how to make sure it really is U.S. produced."
The soybean meal exported from the U.S. is used to feed livestock in the Philippines.
The tour was the result of a partnership between La Filipina Uygongco and AGP, the farmer-owned cooperative group.
Uygongco said his loyalty in U.S.-produced soybeans over South American competition goes straight to his own livestock.
"While I do sell the meal, I'm also a user of the meal," said Uygongco. "It has a better amino acid profile and has a better energy profile. It is cheaper to grow the live stock."
Peter Mishek, director of international trade and business development for AGP, said this trip is a good example of maintaining a strong relationship with an international buyer.
"I think relationships are based on trust and knowledge about how each other does business," said Mishek. "When I go to the Philippines, Gerald takes me out to his customers and educates me about what his requirements are at the destination."
Uygongco said his buyers previously didn't have a frame of reference for where their soybean meal was coming from and how it was produced.
"They have never seen the soybeans being grown, they can see how small it looks," said Uygongco. "They can see how it is extracted, and there are also questions about high protein meals and low protein meals. They can see the differences."
Earlier in the week the group toured sites in Lake Benton, Morris and other parts of southwest and west central Minnesota.
Following the trip to Lamberton on Wednesday, the group was scheduled to move on to Nebraska to visit the AGP corporate headquarters before moving on to Seattle to see where the soybean meal is shipped from.