USSEC Checks in With Food Soybean Researchers in Arkansas
- General News
As U.S. food soybean researchers work to develop new soybean varieties to meet present and future global needs, USSEC continues to provide updates about their ongoing projects as part of its ongoing U.S. soy food bean university research series. Current research allows U.S. soybean growers to remain at the forefront of meeting world market demands, and assures their ability to supply increasingly specialized beans. USSEC has been following the work of several food soybean researchers around the country, including Pengyin Chen, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Arkansas. Dr. Chen recently shared details about his current work.
The program at the University of Arkansas, he says, consists of several parts. “One major component of our program is conventional, non-GMO soybean varieties for farmers to grow. There is an increasing need for non-GMO soybeans for food or feed purposes, and processing purposes. That includes food for human consumption or livestock, for non-GMO beef or poultry. Of course, feed agriculture uses a fraction of the non-GMO soybeans as a feed ration. I develop those kinds of varieties for farmers to grow. In doing so, the farmers will get a premium, meaning an additional price that supplier or importers are going to pay for this kind of crop. The market value averages about $1.06 more per bushel [in Arkansas], so that is a value added to farmers for the crops. That is one part of the breeding program,” Dr. Chen explains.
Finally, the soybean breeding project is developing specialty soybeans for domestic and international niche markets. Dr. Chen states, “That market can be divided into two categories: One is the large soybeans, targeted for edamame, tofu, soymilk and miso, soynuts and roasted or freeze-dried soynut products that compete with peanuts. The other category is smaller soybeans, marketed for natto and bean sprouts. That is a very large market for the Japanese and the Koreans. Those are two major types of soybean niche markets.”
Commercial soybean breeding projects, he says, take from six to eight years.
Expanded Specialty Soybean Breeding Program to Appeal to Niche Markets
In addition to developing the major product types of soybeans—large and small—Dr. Chen says the specialty soybean breeding program has been expanding into other areas, including higher protein, increased oil content, carbohydrate content, and calcium. He provides a snapshot of each of these areas.
Looking Toward Future Market Potential