U.S. Soy: A solid partner for South, Southeast Asian Food Manufacturers

Food manufacturing over the last few decades has become increasingly competitive and complex, as global consumers look at a myriad of options, including plant-based foods.

Partnerships in the global value chain play a crucial role in staying ahead of the trend. That’s why South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council invests in efforts like the Soy Excellence Centers, a global professional development and capacity building program for tomorrow’s emerging leaders in the soy value chain. Recently, two South Dakota soybean grower leaders, Dawn Scheier and Mike McCranie, joined a delegation of U.S. soy producers on a visit to the Soy Excellence Center in Asia (SEC Asia), which provides food and animal protein programs across South and Southeast Asia. These regions are major trading partners and importers for U.S. soybeans. In 2021, for example, Southeast Asia imported over 320 million bushels of U.S. soybeans and soybean meal equivalent, while South Asia countries imported close to 85 million bushels.

During the visit, the delegation attended SEC Asia’s most recent Soy Food program to exchange with program participants and observe facilitation of one of SEC Asia’s technical training modules, the Soy Food and Beverage Intermediate Course.

“The Soy Food and Beverage Intermediate Course provides in-depth, interactive and technical training ranging from production to product development,” says Tim Loh, Director of SEC Asia. “We are thankful to our SEC Asia industry partners and supporters comprising of industry leaders, academic and subject matter experts and food professionals for sharing their expertise and real-world experience.”

Dawn Scheier and Mike McCranie
Dawn Scheier and Mike McCranie

The course consists of four modules, and this specialized course is focused on soy beverage production. Participants learn about everything from processing and filling technologies to navigating the U.S. Specialty Soybean Database. Ultimately, the course helps participants learn how to optimize quality and manufacturing.

“The course was designed holistically. It covered everything from farming and scientific principles to product development,” says Nicole Chai from Vitasoy, an SEC participant. “Site visits and practical sessions were also valuable opportunities and helped us understand their people and capabilities.”

The SEC program is designed to accelerate professional development, while giving opportunities for win-win international exchanges and partnerships. During the visit, the delegation exchanged with SEC Asia industry partners, including visits to Tetra Pak Asia, a world leader in food processing and packaging, and Symrise, a major flavor house. Both companies have provided resources and advisory for SEC programs and participants.

“Ultimately, the experts leading this course worked hard to provide a more interactive and technical learning environment for in-depth understanding of soy beverage production technologies and soy applications in product development,” said McCranie. “It is our hope that this will lead to better quality soy beverages and expand markets for U.S. Soy in this region.”