After attending the Midwest Shippers Association/USSEC U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange Sept. 9-11 in Minneapolis, a group of 20 food and feed industry representatives from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka visited the Minnesota Soybean office Sept. 14 in Mankato, Minn. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka recently began importing U.S. soy for the first time while India is steadily becoming more prosperous and is expected to become an importer of food-type soybeans within a few years.
CEO Tom Slunecka and Kim Nill, Director of Market Development, delivered presentations to the group, explaining various steps the Indian food and feed sectors should undertake now to best position themselves to import Minnesota-grown, high value soybeans in the future that are suitable for specialty market segments in India. Examples discussed included:
- The soymilk market in India currently consumes 7 million bushels of soybeans annually, but its growth is currently hindered by Indian consumers’ dislike for the “beany” flavor and aroma that often accompanies soymilk. Some Minnesota innovators are working to create new soy-processing technologies and soybean varieties that would not impart the “beany” flavor to soyfoods made from those soybeans.
- The soy protein food ingredient market in India currently consumes 20 million bushels of soybeans annually. Even though the government of India does not yet mandate that food product labels state “contains soy” for products containing even the smallest amount of soy protein, one Indian representative said that the Indian government will soon mandate that labeling, just as the U.S. and Europe already have.
- Nill reported how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently created a pathway for companies to petition FDA to formally recognize that their particular processing technology or variety has resulted in a non-allergenic protein ingredient and suggested that the Indian Food Manufacturers Association work with its government to begin to create a similar regulatory pathway so potential incoming Minnesota products are not hindered from penetrating the Indian food ingredient markets.
Each of these efforts will require several years of effort, but a foundation was laid and relationships were established to enable these to begin.