USSEC Hosts SEA Food And AG Sustainability Symposium

Friday, November 26th, 2021

Ahead of the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC)’s inaugural South East Asia Food and AG Sustainability Symposium on Tuesday 14 – Wednesday 15 December 2021, their team talks about the changing global food and shopping trends with a key focus on sustainability and how this is rapidly changing the food industry and food retail landscape all over the world.

Join them in hearing from their distinguished panel of International Keynote Speakers and Panelists comprising of subject matter experts, Thought Leaders, as well as industry front runners that are setting the path towards a Sustainable future for food and agriculture production and supply.

Twists and turns in global food and shopping trends have revealed shifts that may benefit the demand for U.S.-grown soy. Soyfoods retain their multifaceted appeal in today’s environment of quickly changing dietary attitudes and food priorities. Many of the culinary and health benefits of U.S.-grown food grade soybeans present timely opportunities for the U.S. soy industry.

Expanded Definitions Of Health Could Be A Game-Changer

More consumers are aware of the link between personal health and planetary health today, as the world faces a challenge to feed healthy, sustainably produced food to a growing population. Soy has the potential to play a major role in tomorrow’s global food choices. Soyfoods made from verified sustainably grown U.S.-grown soybeans have attributes that are currently in demand. According to a recent international health and nutrition survey in 2021, consumers associate plant-based alternatives with digestive health, immune-boosting benefits and a response to concerns about the environment. Approximately 20 percent of survey participants from the Asia Pacific region, for example, reported they were trying to follow plant-based diets.

Immune health was one of the fastest-growing health claims globally for new food and beverage product launches between 2016 and 2020. In Europe and North America, immune health product claims were increasing even before the pandemic. Food and drink categories making immune support claims include products such as milks for babies and toddlers, sports nutrition products including powders, and dairy products such as fermented beverages and drinking yogurts. Several soy yogurt brands also list live active cultures among their ingredients. Research shows that fermented foods, like tempeh, miso and natto, may have a positive influence on gut microbiota. Communicating the on-trend benefits of soyfoods—including sustainability and immune support—may boost consumer interest in new products.

Environmental Concerns Have Moved Into The Kitchen

Environmental concerns influence consumer food choices, and educating consumers makes those choices easier. For example, 42 percent of consumers say that having product labeling with recognisable certification would encourage them to buy a product; also, 42 percent of consumers say that labels showing environmental impact would encourage them to buy products.

In September, a U.S. company introduced its plant-based chicken nuggets, made with a soy protein source, into food service and grocery store markets. The company is publicising not only the nutrition profile of the product, but also notes that plant-based nuggets reduce the environmental footprint by using less land and water, with lower greenhouse gas emissions.

As the demand for sustainable products continues to expand, brands and manufacturers worldwide are increasing their sustainability initiatives. Soyfoods made with U.S.-grown soy have their own sustainability stories, told by U.S. soybean farmers and backed up by the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP).

The Soyfoods Narrative Can Easily Evolve

Polishing soy’s healthy halo has never seemed simpler. As a plant-based food, soy shares in the healthy image. New products for both retail and food service outlets have launched globally, including in Germany, Latin America, China and South Africa. In the U.S., more consumers consider products with plant-based claims to be healthy and natural, compared to all food and drink products—although only 9 percent of the plant-based products make all-natural claims.

In a crowded plant protein market, soyfoods offer options of one of the few complete plant protein choices like edamame, and minimally processed foods like tofu. Soyfoods also have other prominent attributes, such as cholesterol-free protein, that appeal to health-conscious consumers. One cup of frozen prepared edamame provides 18 grams of complete protein and eight grams of dietary fiber. One cup of cooked mature soybeans provides 31 grams of complete protein and 10 grams of dietary fiber.

A variety of shelf-stable soyfoods are available online, offering one-stop shopping for pantry ingredients. E-commerce presents consumers with easy-to-source and simple-to-store soyfoods like canned soybeans, roasted soynuts and textured soy protein or TSP, also called textured vegetable protein or TVP. E-commerce is expected to account for half of global retail’s growth by 2025, with the U.S., China and Mexico anticipated to have the highest growth.

Soyfoods Suit Price-Conscious Consumers

In 2022, food-at-home prices in the U.S. are expected to rise 1.5-2.5 percent, with prices of food away from home anticipated to increase between 3-4 percent. Rising global food prices have an impact on nutrition as well as on budgets. In Mexico, for example, 71 percent of consumers say it’s harder to have healthy eating habits on a tight budget; 34 percent of Chilean consumers strongly agree that regularly buying healthy food is too expensive.

In 2020, U.S. consumers spent 51.9 percent of their food dollar on food at home, while more than a third of their food spending went to eating-out services. Food-away-from home includes restaurants, schools and other eating places. In limited-service restaurants, chicken is the fastest-growing protein on breakfast menus (a 30.8 percent rise in year-over-year sales), with plant-based chicken alternatives also arriving on the scene. Examples include brunch items like plant-based chicken with waffles.  In Hong Kong, sales of meat alternatives rose to $30 million last year. Recently, a plant-based chicken alternative made with soy was introduced in Hong Kong. The current ratio of retail to food service meat alternative volume is 1:5.

Innovative food service products continue to create opportunities to promote soyfoods. Products like the recently introduced silken tofu puree simplify recipe adaptations so restaurants don’t have to develop new menu items to meet customer demands. Instead, the tofu product can work alongside, or in place of, dairy ingredients to tweak existing dessert, beverage, soup and sauce recipes. With creative products and compelling stories to tell, the soyfoods industry is well-positioned to ride the new wave of customer expectations.

This virtual industry service event is proudly brought to you by the U.S. Soybean Export Council, U.S. Soy Industry Stakeholders, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Find out more, and register to attend this event for free, at

Author: Linda Funk 


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