Chinese group tours local soybean plant|Trip arranged by NCSU Department of Poultry Science

Published 3:38 am Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Staff Writer

When the farmers who run East Carolina Soy Processors set up a pig picking for their guests, they got all the fixings: slaw, potatoes, hushpuppies, potato salad and fried rice.
The guests were about 30 Chinese agriculturalists visiting the plant — which has been running since November — as part of an eight-day workshop at N.C. State University.
“We’re always looking for new markets,” said Glenn Spencer, a member of the plant’s management committee. “That’s why they’re here today.”
The plant, located on N.C. Highway 45 in Hyde County near the borders with Beaufort and Washington counties is, in part, a way to help local soybean farmers market their product to Rose Acre Egg Farm and other livestock operations, Spencer said.
“It kind of evolved,” Spencer said. “We asked what we could do, and that was what they (Rose Acre) said. They didn’t push us into it.”
There are 38 investors from Beaufort, Hyde, Washington and Tyrrel counties involved in the project. In addition to soybean meal for Rose Acre, the plant produces hulls, which are largely used as cattle feed and oil, which is used in foods and as a component of biodeisel fuel.
The Chinese delegation was interested in the ECSP plant because it produces meal with roughly 6 percent fat content, said Charles Stark, assistant professor at the N.C. State Department of Poultry Science.
Jack Cheng, technical director for feed technology of the American Soybean Association’s international marketing group, explained that most soybean meal in China is produced with roughly 1 percent fat. The ECSP processing plant represents a compromise between full fat, which would be more than 10 percent fat, and typical low-fat meal.
The higher fat content can help livestock grow bigger quicker. Buster Manning, the plant’s president, said Rose Acre uses the plant’s meal for its pullet facility, which grows hens from chicks.
“That fat has a lot of nutrients,” Cheng said.
He said his favorite part of the tour was seeing the extrusion process the plant uses to process soybeans.
Stark said this year’s trip, which involved classroom and laboratory instruction, in addition to field trips to several agribusiness plants, is a first for N.C. State. The participants were executives from Chinese firms in the feed and poultry sectors, he said.