Bean Squeeze

USB Staff Writer

USB Staff Writer

United Soybean Board

When it comes to value, soybeans top the ingredient list of food, feed, fuel and industrial product manufacturers. In addition to helping meet sustainability goals, components in this zero-waste plant are able to add nutritional and performance benefits to products. Versatile soybean components also enable processors to squeeze more profit out of every bean while providing international end-users with an abundant supply of ingredient choices.

Food for Thought                        

As one of the most complete vegetable protein sources, soy provides all the essential amino acids needed to meet human nutritional needs. Top food brands use soy protein derivatives to reduce fat, carry flavorings, and increase yields of processed and other meat products.

The clean, natural flavor of soybean oil does not interfere with food ingredient flavors. This has made it a staple in margarine and shortenings, mayonnaise, salad dressing and baked goods. In the U.S., oil from new varieties of high oleic soybeans is expanding demand in the processed and fast food industries.

Soybean hulls left over from oil extraction are a fiber supplement. Other components of this culinary chameleon include soy milk, tofu made from curdled soy milk, miso and tempeh, soy nuts, soy flour and even whole, dry soybeans.

Feeding Frenzy

Availability, protein content and overall nutritional composition make U.S. soybean meal a preferred ingredient in livestock feed rations ranging from poultry and pork to aquaculture.

Other products like soy lecithin are also valued in feed, however soybean meal continues to create the greatest demand for soy and drives profitability for farmers and processors.

So what happens to the oil created by crushing beans for feed?

Fueling Profits

The oleochemical industry makes secondary resources out of vegetable fats and oils such as fatty acids, fatty acids esters, fatty alcohols and glycerin. The most common application is in biodiesel production.

Independent research verifying environmental biodiesel benefits including improved air quality from reduced emissions and improved engine lubricity continue to drive demand for this renewable energy resource.

Industrial Revelations

Farmers and processors are answering the environmental call for biobased alternatives to petrochemicals with soy derivatives that are processed from every bean component.

Soy protein is proving its worth as a formaldehyde replacement in wood adhesives. Demand for this innovative application is expected to escalate in response to increased regulations and commitments by major retailers to disclose product ingredients. Soy protein polymers in polyester resins are finding their way into molded parts for products including combines, countertops and furniture. Product manufacturers continue to develop plastics and rubber that uses soy flour as a filler. Soy protein separated from meal is spinning its way into textiles and is demonstrating amazing anti-aging attributes in cosmetics and personal care products.

Years of use have proven the performance and supply advantages of soybean oil as a petrochemical replacement in polyurethane foams, greases and lubricants, paints, inks, and asphalt sealers. The push for sustainable packaging is escalating research and demand for soy wax coatings that protect cardboard from moisture in freezers and produce more environmentally-friendly disposable containers. Methyl soyate from soybean oil is helping manufacturers improve the sustainability and safety of cleaners and paint strippers, and help remediation efforts to clean up petroleum oil spills.

Research continues on unique soy technologies that may one day enable manufacturers to use soybean hulls for industrial waste water clean-up and biobased blends of soybean stalks and other biomass as fillers in sustainable plastics and rubber, to squeeze even more value out of the amazingly versatile, zero-waste soybean plant.

Meal, oil and hulls from soybean seeds provide end-users with sustainable ingredient choices.