scott sinner food grade soybeans

Scott Sinner

WILLMAR, Minn. — Active in the export market since 1989, Sinner Bros. and Bresnahn of Casselton, N.D. stays tuned to what’s hot … and what isn’t. They sell soybeans around the world and every bushel is food grade. So why food grade soybeans? It’s who you know that makes a difference.

Back in the 1980’s, Bob Sinner chaired the International Promotions Committee for the United Soybean Board. So that meant world travels promoting U.S. soybeans. That was back in the ‘pre-biotech’ era. He realized there was a growing need for soybeans in many overseas food products.

“And we just started going from there,” explained Bob’s son, Scott M. Sinner, SB&B specialty products manager. At the Jan. 8 Linder Ag Outlook event in Willmar, Minn., Sinner shared a few thoughts with The Land.

Starting off, food grade means specific soybean varieties. “When it comes to raising food grade soybeans, it’s completely different than your typical seed selection system. We’ll find certain genetics, take those soybeans over to the food manufacturers, and see if they work in their food products. If they work, then we come back and introduce that soybean to the farmer.”

Sinner said the typical system within soybean seed companies is to come out with varieties and just expect farmers to raise them. “But that’s not how this system works. Food manufacturers tell us what soybeans work from them and that’s what we take to our grower-farmers.”

So what’s ahead for these markets? Nothing but more growth, said Sinner. He explained, “As the income levels of people in the Middle East increases, so do their tastes for more nutritional, higher protein foods. Soy milk right now is the driver in the food soybean industry in the world! And we can really raise good soymilk soybeans in this region.”

Yes, growers get more money too — though Sinner said that somewhat depends on the variety. “There’s different premium structures, different protein levels for each variety. It also depends upon if it’s a ‘picked up’ contract or a ‘delivered’ contract.”

It could mean more revenue too! “As a farmer/grower, you never need look at basis again,” claimed Sinner. “There’s no basis in our contract. It’s all based on Chicago Board of Trade. You’re going to be looking at a minimum of $1 over CBD prices; sometimes in that $2.30 above BOT prices.”

Its “Buyer’s Call” when growers determine when to deliver soybeans to SB&B — meaning SB &B will call you when it’s your delivery. And there is no minimum contract with SB&B. “We’ve got some farmers raising 20 acres for us,” Sinner admitted. “We’ve got some farmers raising over 10,000 acres for us. It just depends on the farmer.”

So with a wet, cool spring already on the docket (according to weather forecasters) are there any concerns about having enough growers; enough acres to take care of SB&B food buyers? Yes, perhaps. “My concern,” said Sinner, “is farmers calling me June 1st saying they can’t get their acres planted. I can’t have that happen. We do not speculate this market. Everything that is sold is contracted. Yes, we have ‘act of God’ clauses in our contract. Nature is not 100 percent predictable. But we can’t run that risk. If we’re short on deliveries to our food buyers, they’ll quickly look for other suppliers.

“We certainly have competition,” Sinner went on to say. “However, a couple of things make SB&B unique is that we farm too. We are looking at the same bottom lines as our farmer growers. That is a benefit to the farmers we are working with. We share details on herbicides, and pest issues, even tillage ideas. We also do ‘identity preserved’ marketing. We aren’t comingling varieties from our various growers. These food people are asking for specific varieties for their food. When a farmer delivers his soybeans, that lot number for his soybeans goes all the way to the food manufacturer.”

Discounts for inferior quality happen for these food grade soybeans also. Sinner simply said, “You’re getting a premium for a reason. There are specifications that have to be met for food. We are not contracting willy-nilly. Our beans have to meet the requirements of our buyers. That’s the bottom line when you’re in the food business.”

So where do the soybeans of SB&B end up? Three major markets at this date: Japan, Thailand and Taiwan. “About 75 percent of our total sales go to these three countries. We have very strong market share in all three countries. And I confidentially see markets increasing — plus some new markets in other countries too. New food factories are being built in these countries so building demand is happening. At the same time, as the income levels of people in these countries increases, the first thing they want is better food. You take a country like India, for example. India has 1.4 billion people. Four hundred million of those are vegan and the best plant-based protein for theses non-meat eaters is food grade soybeans!”

So just maybe a hearty ‘thank you’ from the soybean industry is in order for the meat-less eaters around the world!

SB&B’s address is P.O. Box 549, Casselton, ND 58012; Sinner’s phone number is (701) 347-4900 and his email address is