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9th Int’l Soy Food Conference: Year 2024 to be Celebrated as Year of Soy Foods

Soy plays a vital role in ensuring nutrition security and the growth of soy food processing sector in India needs to be accelerated.

Shivam Dwivedi
9th Int’l Soy Food Conference: Year 2024 to be celebrated as Year of Soy Foods
9th Int’l Soy Food Conference: Year 2024 to be celebrated as Year of Soy Foods

India, with its alarming rates of malnutrition and protein deficiency, seeks viable solutions to address these pressing health issues. Soybean, a plant that offers high-quality protein with minimal saturated fat, presents a promising solution to improve the health and well-being of the population.

With all three macronutrients, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, soybeans provide essential amino acids necessary for human health. In fact, just 250 grams of soybean contains protein equivalent to 3 liters of milk, 0.5 kg of mutton, or 20 eggs. Recognizing the growing soy food industry in India and the need to bridge the protein gap in the country, the Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association (SFPWA) in collaboration with industry partners and like-minded associations organized the 9th International Soy Food Conference. The conference, titled "Soy Foods Sustainable Protein Source for Health and Wellness," took place at the Brilliant Convention Centre in Indore (MP), India.

The conference commenced with Sumit Agarwal, the Chairman of SFPWA, welcoming esteemed guests, including ministers, government officials, and attendees.  Agarwal highlighted the role of SFPWA in enhancing soy food processing as a business opportunity and its contribution to meeting the nutritional requirements of the masses in India. Addressing the audience, Omprakash Saklecha, the Minister of MSME and Science & Technology, emphasized the significance of soybean as a cash crop for farmers and a vital source of good nutrition.

He expressed optimism that the soy processing industry could revolutionize the provision of high-quality nutrition to the people of India while generating substantial income and revenue for the government.  P Narhari (IAS), Principal Secretary, MSME, Government of Madhya Pradesh shed light on the government schemes available for soy processing industries under the MSME category, which garnered considerable interest from participants.

During the conference, prominent speakers shared valuable insights. Dr. Davish Jain, the Chairman of SOPA, emphasized the importance of soybean farming and its role in addressing the nutrition security of India. He strongly advocated for soy to be considered a key nutritional ingredient in government feeding and social welfare programs. Girish Matlani, MD of Sonic Biochem and the past Chairperson of SFPWA, voiced his concerns about the slow growth of the soy food processing sector in India compared to its global counterparts.

Dr. K. H. Singh, Director of the Indian Institute of Soybean Research, discussed the institute's soybean varieties and their suitability for specific food and crush applications. He also addressed the issue of the non-availability of food-specific soybeans, which currently hinder the soy food processing industry. Representatives from the US Soybean Export Council and McDonald Pelz Global Commodities, Jaison John and Ram Gopal respectively, shared insights on global soybean market trends, highlighting India's position as the fifth-largest producer of soybeans.

During the conference, SFPWA recognized individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions to the soy food sector. Notable awardees included Virgil D. Miedema, Jim Sutter, Davish Jain, Dr. Mark Messina, Hank Scouten, Dr. M.M. Krishna, Dr. Kavitha Reddy, Dr. Vineet Kumar, Dr. Punit Chandra, and Dr. Suresh Itapu. Awards were given across various categories, including Tofu, Dairy analogues, TSP, Soy Oil, Soy-based Meat Analogues, Protein Supplements, Soy-based savory foods, Convenance Foods, Soy Food in Feeding programs, Soy Ingredients, Innovative products, Farmer-Industry linkages, Culinary & Baking, and Soy in Staples.

The conference featured six sessions covering various aspects of soy food processing, utilization, nutrition, and market development. Panel discussions and presentations explored the versatility of soy as an ingredient for food processing, its nutritional benefits, government feeding programs, business opportunities, and consumer connections. Renowned experts, such as Dr. Kavitha Reddy, Dr. Suresh Itapu, Dr. Puneet Chandra, and Dr. Suresh Motwani, provided in-depth knowledge on soy nutrition, health benefits, regulatory aspects, and environmental sustainability.

Furthermore, Schouten Henk, the CEO of Schouten Europe and Community Food Systems and Service India Pvt Ltd, shared insights on various soy-based plant protein products, with a particular focus on Tempeh. He highlighted successful launches in Indian cities and the involvement of women self-help groups, offering fermentation units and buy-back guarantees. The conference also shed light on the availability of a wide range of soy food products across the country, including soymilk, tofu, soy nuggets, soy flour, soy nuts, soy-based bakery items, and soy oil.

The Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association (SFPWA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of soy and soy-based food products for improving food and nutrition security in India. SFPWA aims to create awareness, provide support, and foster collaboration among industry stakeholders to enhance the growth and development of the soy food sector.

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