Bhopal: Even as the Covid-19 second wave appears to have ebbed, demand has shifted towards protein rich foods that help build immunity. However,makers of soy-based foods known to be cheaper alternatives to meat and with as many health benefits are finding it difficult to produce them due to non availability of soybeans locally.
While there are no food specialty soybeans grown in India,heavy import duty on Identity Preserved (IP) soybeans produced by the US is deterring soy food manufacturers from importing the raw material.The manufacturers are looking at the need to import at least 50,000 tonnes of IP beans from the US. India doesn’t grow specialty food beans hence there is no supply and the soy food industry is using the same beans crushed for oil and soy meal.
In the USA, IdentityPreserved (IP) is a practice of segregating crops throughout the process of production,processing, and distribution inorder to deliver a specific traitor the quality to the end market.These IP specialty beans have been created and customised with lower oil content, higher inherent sucrose, low oligosaccharide (raffinose and stachyose) and stable protein structures making them highly suitable for soy food manufacturing.
These exclusive technical features are attributed to produce high quality products with no off smell and greater acceptability.The soymilk and tofu processors in India have already imported US non GM food specialty soybeans.”Fortunately, there are nonGM specialty food grade soybeans grown in the United States with specific varieties and traits for various soy food applications.These are IP and have been regularly preferred and supplied directly to soy food manufactures in South East Asia, China, Japan and other countries,” said Soy Food Promotion and WelfareAssociation (SFPWA), president K Sarat Chandra Kumar.
SFPWA represents over 3,000 small, medium and large scale units across the country that provide low cost nutrition under the “Nutrition Mission” of India.
Inconsistent and inferior raw soybean quality is the leading cause of dissatisfied consumers wanting better taste, texture and flavour profiles. Indian soybeans are oil and meal centric, suitable for animal utilisation. There are no food specialty soybeans grown in the country, thus supply does not exist. While all Indian beans are non- GM,they are also treated as commodity beans regardless of the end use, be it in the food or feed industry,” Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association vice president Sumit Agarwal.
He said that when soybeans are needed for food applications, Indian producers grade and select the best beans from the lot and sell them at a premium. Unfortunately, this does not qualify to satisfy the specialty food characteristics and do not match up with the quality standards and expectations for producing retail end products the consumer’s desire. “As a result, many Indian soy food processors are now forced to shut down,”Agarwal said.
Last year, India imported approximately 5,00,000 metric tonnes of duty free soybeans for crush purposes from African countries to meet the growing demand as the Indian soybean is way too expensive.”The present rate of 45 percent basic duty, which comes to 57 percent after adding other taxes etc., to import these beans from the US is not commercially feasible for the food processing purposes,”Agarwal said.
The industry submitted a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently to favour the soyfood processing industry by considering this smaller quantity of food specialty non GM soybeans be imported from the US on a zero or minimum possible import duty.”These beans can be allowed to be imported from the US with”zero” duty under tariff rate quota since food specialty soybeans are not grown in the country,” he added