With worldwide demand for soya increasing steadily over recent years, the price of soya has increased steadily with it. Huge demand from China and South East Asia, as well as bio-fuels use, and increasing demand for GM free Soya, have all served to more than double the price of soya beans in the last five years. There is huge market demand in the UK, and with new varieties and extensive knowledge of the crop.
Soybeans belong to the legume family and are native to East Asia. They have been an important protein source in the Orient for over five thousand years. Soybeans have only been introduced to the Western world since the 20th century. Soybeans grow on a variety of soils and a wide range of climates, ranging form tropical Brazil to the snowy island Hokkaido in the north of Japan. As soybeans mature in the pod, they ripen into hard, dry beans. Although most soybeans are yellow, there are also rare varieties which are black, brown or green colored. A given area of land planted with soybeans can produce much more protein than land planted with other crops, or if the land were used to raise cattle.
Fresh soybeans, or edamame, should be refrigerated and used within two days. Frozen edamame can be stored in the freezer for several months. Dried soybeans can be kept in an airtight container for a very long period.
Soybeans are most often transformed in other foods such as tempeh, tofu, miso, shoyu, soy milk or other food ingredients. However, cooked soybeans can also be used as an ingredient in soups, sauces and stews. To prepare two cups of soybeans for cooking, soak them in about six cups of water for about eight hours. This soaking shortens the cooking time, improves the texture and appearance of the beans and removes some of the indigestible sugars. Drain, rinse and cook the soaked soybeans in about six cups of fresh water. Do not add salt at this point or it will delay the softening of the soybeans. Pressure-cook the soaked soybeans for about 40 min. When you cook soybeans, make it worth your while by cooking two or three times what you need and freezing the rest for later use.
Whole soybeans are an excellent source of protein and dietary fiber. Soy protein is the only vegetable with a complete protein. Soy protein has recently attracted a lot of attention because of its ability to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Results from research have prompted health professionals to request the government to officially give a stamp of approval for soy's cholesterol-lowering effects. The Food and Drug Administration approved the cholesterol-lowering health claim for soy, indicating that daily consumption of 25 grams of soy protein (6.5 grams of soy protein per serving) may lower LDL cholesterol.
America led the world in soybean production in 2005, with an output of 84 million metric tons. Second-place Brazil produced 57 million tons, followed by Argentina with 41 million tons and China with 18 million tons
America’s average annual growth rate of soybean production over the past 4 decades is 5% compared to Brazil’s more robust 14% average annual increase. Experts expect Brazil to overtake America as the world’s largest soybean producer within a few years
An average annual increase of 27%, Argentinean soybean production has risen even faster than Brazil. Both South American nations have become strong competitors for the U.S. in the world soybean market
European Union nations consumed 15 million tonnes of soybean products in 2005
China continues to experience the fastest growth in soybean consumption. Increased incomes in the People’s Republic are fuelling increased demand for soyoil. As well, more soymeal is being used as feed in China’s developing livestock industry.
Below are the leading soybean importers in 2005. The top 4 importers tallied about three-quarters total global soybean imports
China … 27 million tonnes (41% of world soybean imports)
European Union … 14 million tonnes (22%)
Japan … 4 million tonnes (6%)
Mexico … 4 million tonnes (6%)
Chinese soybean imports have skyrocketed by more than 27 times from 0.8 million tonnes in 1995. In addition to the robust domestic appetite for soy products, extensive investment in soybean crushing facilities in Chinese coastal cities has added to China’s escalating demand for imported soybeans