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Studies show that soymilk technology may not be profitable in developing countries

Soybeans are a promising crop for developing countries due to their high protein and oil content. Over the past few decades, humanitarian organizations and policy makers have promoted soybean processing technologies such as “soybean cows,” which extract milk from soybeans. However, new research from the University of Illinois often shows that soy cattle are not economically viable and do not provide the expected benefits.


“Soy cattle have been touted as a way to increase soy utilization and combat poverty and malnutrition, but no studies have been published to examine whether this is a sustainable business concept. Developing world“Peter Goldsmith, a professor and director of U of I’s Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL).

In 2016, SIL partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to conduct a large-scale study to help determine if soybean cattle are a suitable technology for small local businesses.

Consulting firm Palladium has set up six soymilk products businesses in Malawi, funded through USAID’s agricultural diversification efforts. SIL researchers have worked with the Palladium team to introduce financial and production records management to six companies.

The USAID project donated soy cattle equipment such as grinders, steam boilers, pressure cookers and stainless steel presses that can be operated electrically or pedaled. The operator also received the first batch of soybeans and consumables, and a bicycle to distribute the product. From now on, I will bear the rent, electricity, labor, transportation, and operating expenses such as soybeans and sugar.

Soy cows can convert beans and water into milk, which can be further processed into yogurt, cheese and ice cream for sale at local markets and roadside stores. This process also produces okara, a high-protein by-product used in animal feeds and baking ingredients.

Goldsmith estimates that soy technology appears to be sustainable, simply looking at operating profit. However, proper bookkeeping methods reveal results that differ from the more complete financial situation.

“You can turn soybeans into milk and sell and pay for it, but it’s not a sustainable business, and even non-cash donations cost $ 10,000 in equipment amortization on some loan. There is a depreciation cost. The equipment is out of date and will eventually need to be replaced, “he explains.

“Soy cows are capable of producing about 1,700 liters of soy milk a month. However, these operators produced an average of about 147 liters, and some operators produced only 75 liters. Single. Based on the operating shift benchmark of, it is idle for about 81% of the time. “

Soy beef companies do not have a large market for their products because of the low wages and rural areas where soy milk is not part of the normal diet.

Soy beef cannot be sold at retail stores as it operates in temporary spaces that do not comply with food safety. Compliance with food safety requires significant additional capital investment to upgrade the physical infrastructure. Similarly, high-quality packaging and labeling that is useful for sale is expensive, so entrepreneurs rely on low-quality, inexpensive disposable plastic sachets. Since perishable soymilk products are transported in a cooler box attached to the bicycle, the sales range is narrow.

“Soy milk is a great product, but it competes with other beverages that are much cheaper. Demand does not match the amount that soy cows can produce. To deal with poverty and malnutrition because companies cannot stand on their own. The application will be lost, “Goldsmith said.

Julia Krause, the lead author of this study, worked on the project as an undergraduate intern at SIL. She traveled to Malawi to meet her collaborators and organized and analyzed bookkeeping data. Krause graduated from U of I’s Faculty of Agricultural and Consumer Economics in 2021 and is currently engaged in research and development at PepsiCo in Plano, Texas.

For more information on undergraduate research opportunities, please visit the Faculty of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences website.

“The skills we learned using SIL in data analysis, scientific writing, and real-world engineering applications unleashed our passion for research and development in food engineering as a career. SIL is a truly global collaboration. An exciting world of data-driven problem solving by researchers, “says Klaus.

The authors conclude that soy technology is suitable for urban environments with high capital investment, but capacity is in line with demand.

Alternative technologies consisting of household soy kits appear to be more suitable for local businesses. This kit is designed for use in home kitchens and produces small quantities to meet the demands of the local market. SIL researchers see the feasibility of soy kits Previous research He discovered that it could improve the economic situation of rural women in Malawi.

The article“Soymilk Product Performance Metrics” African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development.. The authors are Julia Klaus, Peter Gould Smith, Margaret Cornelius, Maggie Muzung, Charity Cambani Banda, and Courtney Tamimi.


Soy kits provide profitability for female entrepreneurs in Malawi


For more information:
Performance index of soy milk products, African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (2021). DOI: 10.18697 / ajfand.105.21245

Quote: Soymilk technology may not be profitable in developing countries, according to a study (February 18, 2022) February 18, 2022 https://phys.org/news/2022-02 Obtained from -soy-dairy-technology-profitable-countries.html

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Studies show that soymilk technology may not be profitable in developing countries

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