Nutrition

Shifting Consumer Priorities to Boost Health and Wellness Create Soyfoods Opportunities

Get ready for the post-pandemic shift in consumer health and wellness priorities. The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) tracks trends that may represent global market opportunities for U.S.-grown soy. As evolving consumer priorities elevate health and wellness, soyfoods are well-positioned to respond to the changing food and shopping behavior of global consumers.

U.S.-grown soy is a good fit for anticipated diet and nutrition changes as more global consumers begin making dietary choices intended to boost their immune systems and general health while considering the wellness of the planet.  Health concerns are among the largest factors that drive consumers to consider eating more plant-based foods or adopting more plant-forward diets.[1] For example, Packaged Facts projects that retail sales of plant-based dairy and egg products will rise at an average annual rate of 6.0%, reaching $5.2 billion by 2024. Estimated sales in 2020 were $4.3 billion, up from $3.9 billion in 2019.[2]

Soyfoods connect to consumer attitudes.  Global food and ingredient company Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) recently shared research suggesting that consumer priorities are evolving in the face of worldwide pandemic concerns. ADM’s OutsideVoice consumer insights platform reported that an estimated 77% of consumers want to do more to stay healthy in the future.[3]

Increasingly, the quest for maintaining health incorporates fitness. Nearly half of global consumers now consider physical strength an integral part of being healthy.[4]  With those priorities in mind, it is not surprising that high protein diets, including protein from soyfoods, are gathering momentum. In a recent survey, 55 percent of global consumers associated a high-protein diet with physical energy; 51 percent associated high protein diets with muscle health and tone; 50 percent with daily health; and 40 percent with weight management.[5]  Soyfoods are a unique vegetable protein source compared to other legumes, as characterized by a combination of their high protein content and lower carbohydrate content.[6]

When it comes to food choices, according to the International Food Information Council, 28 percent of consumers ate more protein from plant sources in 2020 than they did in 2019; 24 percent ate more plant-based dairy alternatives and 17 percent ate more plant-based meat alternatives.[7]

Global trends highlight the advantages of soyfoods.  ADM research has identified the following global trends for 2021.

  • A more proactive approach to nourishing the body and mind: ADM research found that 31 percent of consumers are purchasing more items tailored for their health; 50 percent prefer foods and beverages that naturally contain beneficial ingredients.[8] Soyfoods fit into this category. More than 2,000 soy-related peer-reviewed articles are published each year, with much of the research being conducted because of evidence that soy, independent of its nutrient content, may have a variety of health benefits.[9]
  • Sustainability takes center stage: Approximately 65 percent of consumers say they want to have a positive impact on the environment through their everyday actions. This goal is a key reason why 32 percent of consumers buy sustainably produced items.[10] U.S. soybean farmers meet national sustainability and conservation standards to ensure sustainable soybean production. The U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP) is a certified approach audited by third parties that demonstrates sustainable soybean production at a national scale.[11] When global consumers purchase soyfoods made from U.S.-grown soy, they are purchasing products grown sustainably to help reduce land impact, soil erosion and total greenhouse gas emissions, while increasing energy use efficiency.
  • The gut microbiome emerges as the gateway to wellness: Approximately 25 percent of global consumers have digestive health issues.[12] Microorganisms living in the intestinal tract (gut microbiome) have an important role in digestion and nutrition.[13] Probiotic foods—including fermented soyfoods like tempeh and miso—naturally contain beneficial live microbiota that may promote digestive health.[14]
  • Plant-based food boom expands beyond the bun. Globally, 56 percent of consumers are trying to include more plant-based foods and beverages in their diets, propelling alternative proteins into an increasingly mainstream phenomenon.[15] The versatility of soyfoods ranges from edamame and minimally processed choices such as tofu and soymilk to convenience products like frozen meals and dessert products.
  • Transparency builds consumer trust. Consumers now expect their food labels to provide greater transparency around a product’s entire life cycle, with 26 percent of global consumers looking for the country of origin on their food and drink labels.[16] In the U.S., soybeans are grown on more than 300,000 farms in 45 states,[17] with 97 percent of U.S. farms being family-owned.[18]

 

Resources

[1] Packaged Facts, “Dairy and Egg Alternatives: Outlook for Plant-Based and Cell-Cultured Consumer Products,” Dec. 9, 2020.

[2] Packaged Facts, “Dairy and Egg Alternatives: Outlook for Plant-Based and Cell-Cultured Consumer Products,” Dec. 9, 2020.

[3] Archer Daniels Midland, ADM, “Top 5 Global Food Trends 2021.”

[4] Euromonitor International Health and Nutrition Survey, fielded January to February, 2020.

[5] HealthFocus International 2020 Global Trend Study on Shoppers’ Journey to Living and Eating Healthier, 22 Countries, April 2020.

[6] Nutrients, “Soy, Soy Foods and Their Role in Vegetarian Diets,” January 10, 2018.

[7] International Food Information Council, 2020 Food & Health Survey.

[8] Archer Daniels Midland, ADM, “Top 5 Global Food Trends 2021.”

[9] Nutrients, “Soy and Health Update: Evaluation of the Clinical and Epidemiologic Literature, 2016.

[10] Archer Daniels Midland, ADM, “Top 5 Global Food Trends 2021.”

[11] United States Soybean Export Council, “U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol,” April 2018.

[12] Archer Daniels Midland, ADM, “Top 5 Global Food Trends 2021.”

[13] Nutrition Review, “Defining the Human Microbiome,” Aug. 2012.

[14] Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, The Nutrition Source, “The Microbiome.”

[15] Archer Daniels Midland, ADM, “Top 5 Global Food Trends 2021.”

[16] Archer Daniels Midland, ADM, “Top 5 Global Food Trends 2021.”

[17] United States Department of Agriculture, “Census of State Level Data,” 2017.

[18] United States Department of Agriculture, “Census of Agriculture Farm Typology Report,”  March 2015.

Linda Funk
Linda Funk

President

Flavorful Insight

Linda Funk has more than 30 years’ experience with large food and beverage manufacturers and commodity associations, assisting clients in telling their stories.