The sudden boom in the soybean market, especially in the United States, has left many baffled. What was once just a nutritious bean crop, much like several others, is now taking over large fields in many regions of the country. In fact, reports indicate that the global market share of soybean alone could expand to a value of $215.746 by 2025.
But the increasing demand for the crop leaves one primary question unanswered – What is driving this growing interest in native East Asian legumes among western countries? Let us explore why soybeans have become such a critical crop in the U.S today.
1. The Nutrition Value To Humans
The high nutritional value of soybean is among the most popular reasons for its growing demand. Serving about 40 – 42% high-quality protein and 18 – 20% healthy fats, soybean can be filling even in terms of providing the perfect nutrient requirements for your everyday needs. You can visit US soy to learn further about soy and its nutritional value.
The legume contains about 18% oil that is primarily available in the market as soybean oil. Most of the soybean produced in the country helps derive oil one way or the other. An average 60-pound bushel could contribute about 45-47 pounds of meal and 11 pounds of crude oil. The oil is increasingly becoming the most sought replacement for refined cooking oils, given the presence of omega fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin E, and K. The abundance of healthy fats contributes to better heart health and cholesterol management. The essential compounds also help the body fight against free radical damage, oxidative stress, heart and bone ailments, and improve skin and hair quality. Another advantage of soybean oil is that it works well at high cooking temperatures without breaking down, which decreases health concerns.
Fermented soybean and various other preparations from the legume directly are also staples in many diets. These recipes bring together the impeccable bean to your body to strengthen your system and improve heart and brain function. Other common derivatives of soybean include soy milk, tofu, soy flour, and soy sauce. While soy sauce has been a popular ingredient in some cuisines, the growing popularity of vegan diets has steered interest in other soy-based products. These soy products are enriched with high protein content and fibre and are lactose-free. They prove to be a competent meat alternative to meet the nutrition requirements of millions across the globe.
2. A Multi-Purpose Crop
Besides providing a potent nutrition profile for humans, soybean has numerous uses that make it an interesting choice for cultivation. Soybean used for oil extraction leaves behind a heavy meal that is useful as feed for livestock. One of the main reasons behind this application is that the beans contain high-quality protein and fats that are an affordable yet nutritious meal choice for cattle, poultry, and pigs. It can improve milk production, increase resistance to extreme temperature, improve virility, and increase egg size.
Soy oil also contributes to the preparation of fuel for diesel engines. The increasing need for biodiesel production is met by removing glycerin from soybean oil. The need for the same is steeply grown from just a few million gallons to billions within the past decade.
Several other industrial uses of soy oil bloom as the product is making its way into the environmentally friendly building and flooring materials, inks, crayons, and even cosmetics. It is no wonder that the demand for the yield is exponentially growing every year.
3. Evolving Cultivation Strategies
Soybean is a simple plant that is easy to plant and harvest with essential tools such as those used for crops like corn. But some challenges, such as damn weather, can increase moisture content in the beans and make storage difficult. Also, heavy rains or lower temperatures may have an immense impact on the harvest.
While these challenges kept the bean from achieving its full potential as a staple crop, technological developments have enabled better cultivation and yield. The ideal temperature range for soy is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit during seeding. But this poses a challenge during spring due to increased dampness and lower temperatures. The yield, in this case, could drop by five times the actual capability of the soil. However, recent advancements in seed genetics help cope with this problem.
The final products carry hand-selected traits that best survive extreme temperatures and manage to produce competent yield every time. It is a blessing to growers across several regions as they work with later maturing hybrids against full-season options. This way, the cost of production has gown down, thus encouraging more people to work with the crop.
The soybean market is slowly taking over the responsibility of providing the necessary ingredients for several sectors simultaneously. The versatility of the crop promises every part of it to add value to the world in many different forms, clearly driving an increasing interest in cultivating this legume.