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Demand up, makers of soy food look at US for supply

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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

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