A trucker closes the door on a container of food-grade soybeans Photo courtesy of NFSA
BEANS AWAY: A trucker closes the door on a container of food-grade soybeans from North Dakota and Minnesota that’s bound for Myanmar and Cambodia.

Are our food-grade soybeans better?

Myanmar and Cambodia soy milk and tofu makers are evaluating food-grade soybeans grown in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Food companies in Myanmar and Cambodia will soon receive their first shipments of U.S. food-grade soybeans sourced from North Dakota and Minnesota. Those two Asian countries are using 14 metric tons of food-grade soybeans from the region to evaluate their use in production of soy milk and tofu. The pilot project is being backed by the USDA Quality Samples Program and the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health program.

“Cambodia and Myanmar are significant opportunities for U.S. soy to meet their growing demand for high-quality soybeans,” says Matt Gast, a Valley City, N.D., soybean grower and treasurer of the North Dakota Soybean Council. NDSC support the ASA’s WISHH program, which works to build the U.S. soy trade through the improvement of health, nutrition, and food security in emerging markets. Gast, a member of the WISHH program committee, recently toured Myanmar and Cambodia.

“I met company representatives who see U.S. soy’s value, because it will allow them to produce a higher-quality product, and avoid the cleaning and sorting required to remove stones and debris from their current supply,” he says. “USDA’s support of WISHH’s activities in these countries is an important partnership with our North Dakota soybean checkoff investments. Together, we are connecting trade and development in Myanmar and Cambodia, which will also benefit through availability of higher-quality soy foods like tofu.”

Middle classes growing
Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, and Cambodia have a combined population of about 68 million — 11 times that of North Dakota and Minnesota — and a growing middle-income class. Besides a market for tofu and soy milk, there is a growing market for soybean meal for livestock and fish.

The NDSC has supported WISHH’s activities that resulted in the Myanmar and Cambodia food processors’ interest in U.S. soybeans for the premium products that they are developing. NDSC is also providing funding to send Zach Liu, a Northern Crops Institute food scientist, to train staff at the companies conducting the trials.

Three members of the Northern Food Grade Soybean Association — including SB&B Foods Inc., Casselton, N.D.; Healthy Food Ingredients, Fargo, N.D.; and Brushvale Seed, Breckenridge, Minn.; —provided the seven varieties of high-quality soybeans for the project. The beans were shipped out of Fargo in early March in containers.

Source: North Dakota Soybean Council

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