The United Soybean Board (USB) announced it has awarded $1.1M to the Purdue University Food Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing Institute (FEMI), in partnership with the University of Arkansas and the University of Missouri. The joint project, which launched on Oct. 1st, seeks to build infrastructure and connectivity for small- and medium-scale processing of soy-based value-added products.
“With this grant, Purdue Food Science will be a hub for research, development and education”
Co-funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a federal organization focused on addressing key problems in agriculture and food security, the year-long project will be led by Purdue associate professor and FEMI director Dharmendra Mishra.
According to Purdue, the project was born out of a national discussion on the soybean value chain. Its work will concentrate on phenotyping for compositional traits in novel value-added applications, trials to eliminate pressure on small- to medium-scale industry sectors, and final product quality and sensory evaluations.
The grant includes participation from Purdue food scientist Senay Simsek, associate professor of agronomy Katy Rainey, and USDA researcher and molecular biologist Karen Hudson. “Soybeans currently produce the highest protein yields per unit area compared to all other plant-based sources,” said Mishra. “The major challenge is that quality issues with flavor and functionality have impacted the utilization of currently available soybean protein products for food.”
The global market for soy protein isolate and concentrate is expected to increase 80X in the next decade, says Mishra, while soy production for renewable diesel is expected to increase by 10% over the next three years.
“There was a critical need to help the soybean farmers and soy processors. Our project proposes to solve the bottleneck of small- and medium-scale processing and facilitate the scale-up of identity preserved (IP) systems through our multistate team,” comments Mishra. “Our project fits in the overall strategic vision of the connectivity for soy users to the market.”
To create new soy-based products, Purdue’s Skidmore Sales and Distributing Food Product Development Laboratory and Pilot Plant will provide state-of-the-art manufacturing processes that enable the advancement of plant protein initiatives, including the refinement of soy into oils and powders.
“Soy-based products have continued to grow over the past years and are expecting continued growth into the future,” Simsek said. “With this grant, Purdue Food Science will be a hub for research, development and education that will make connections and bridge the gaps between growers, breeders, researchers, students, the food industry and consumers.”