A growing market for soy protein products and soyfoods in Western nations is helping to create a new value-added market for soybeans beyond the traditional uses of crushing for animal feed and vegetable oils, according to a new report.
The report, produced by Soyatech, finds there is a large and growing use of whole soybeans for direct human food, and this is expanding out of Asia, the region where soybeans have traditionally been an important food source.
The 'Whole Soybeans as Food Ingredient' report suggests that production of soybeans around the world has grown over 400 per cent over the last 30 years, with new producers Argentina and Brazil set to soon eclipse the quantities of the biggest producer, the US.
Most significantly, the report highlights a large difference in growth rates between the use of whole soybeans for food and soybean crush for proteins. Overall, the growth in soybeans for food use will increase annual per capita consumption of soybeans by 53 per cent during the current decade.
In an average year, approximately 85 per cent of the world's total soybean production is crushed into soybean meal and oil, and 9 per cent is processed directly into human food, according to Soyatech.
But a growing portion of the crushed soybean is further processed into a variety of soy protein ingredients for food such as soy flour, soy protein concentrates and isolated soy proteins. In 2001, the report estimates, 3.2 per cent of the world's crush was further processed into soy proteins. It also suggests that the use of crushed soybeans for food ingredients is growing six times as fast per year as whole soybean use.
The study also provides information on where the soybeans for food are produced and the countries and regions with the strongest demand.
"Although it is evident that demand for both whole soybeans and soy protein ingredients will continue to grow in the future, changes in genetics and where production and processing will occur will help to shape future demand," concludes Soyatech.