Honda marries car making with soybean processing

What a neat idea ..

Detroit Free Press

MARYSVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Honda Motor Co. expects to set an export record this year — in the soybeans it returns to Japan in containers that arrived with instrument dials, transmission gears and other spare parts.

In the shadow of its auto plant, the company every hour processes 550 bushels of soybeans that end up as tofu and soy sauce.

The automaker, which expects to sell a record 1 million bushels this year, is looking for markets in Australia and says potential customers in Europe and Thailand have expressed interest in shipments of the crop.

Honda began shipping soybeans in 1986 as a way to reuse cargo containers that were returning to Japan empty. The crop was plentiful in Ohio, there was a market for them in Japan, and the shipments were a way for the automaker to invest in a state it has operated in since 1983.

Between 250 and 280 farmers grow the soybeans for Honda on 32,000 acres in Ohio and Michigan. The region produces soybeans that are especially high in protein, a quality desired by Honda’s Japanese customers because soybeans are a substitute for meat.

The growers are paid as much as $1.10 more a bushel than the $6.15 they would get on the open market.

Some of the soybeans are grown on Honda property, including in the infield of an auto test track.

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