The demand for plant protein is critically rising worldwide subject to the low calorific value, lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, improving overall health and growing environmental issues. Amidst this rise, it would be quite safe to declare that the market for soy protein ingredients has been in the limelight for a while now. 

Of all the plant-based protein sources available, soy boasts high protein content that is relatively higher than all other beans cultivated for human consumption. Some of the prominent benefits of consuming soy protein ingredients like isolates or concentrates include:

  • Enhancing muscle growth
  • Lowering the cholesterol level
  • Boosting energy
  • Controlling diabetes and obesity

Soy protein isolate, one of the most common protein ingredients present in the market, is currently witnessing a renewed demand as a dairy replacer. The ingredient is used as an alternative to non-dairy beverages, milk powder and other forms of milk products. 

Soy protein isolates are used in the production of ice cream, instead of skimmed milk powder, thereby improving the emulsification properties of the product, averting the sanding phenomenon and delaying the crystallization of lactose. Having said that, the expanding lactose intolerant population worldwide is projected to open new opportunities for use of soy protein ingredients in dairy products. Currently, the lactose intolerance in global population stands at 65%, as claimed by 

While the dairy industry is just one of the many avenues generating significant returns for the global soy protein ingredients market, there are product applications that have been attracting commendable profits in the business space through the years:

1.    Soy protein in meat alternatives

“There might be nearly 79 million vegans worldwide.” — The Guardian 

The vegan population growth has increased veganism more than threefold over the last decade. Because of this, the demand for vegan protein has surged, paving way for the consumption of soy protein. Since soy protein is capable of providing all the amino acids required for human development, medical experts have begun recommending it as a potentially healthier substitute for meat. 

Moreover, soy protein concentrates and isolates are the most commonly used ingredients in production of burger-, sausage- and meat muscle-like meat analogues. 

2.    Soy protein isolate in infant feed formula

“Nearly 45% of the fatalities in children under 5 years of age in low- and middle-income countries is linked to malnutrition” — WHO 

The world is struggling against rising malnutrition, which has been claiming lives of infants and children below the age of five. For the record, protein is one of the main ingredients that is found missing in the diets of children, which is now being addressed by foods and formulas enriched with soy protein isolate. The reason?

Soy protein isolate boasts a protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score of 1, which is comparable with high-quality animal protein lie egg whites. It also offers more advantages given less unfavorable non-protein content from soybeans and a better milk-like appearance. 

In 2006, the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition Committee on Nutrition stated that soy protein formula can be used for feeding infants, strengthening its position in the infant food market. 

3.    Soy protein concentrates and isolates in animal feed

“The global meat consumption is anticipated to reach between 460 million and 570 million tons by 2050” — World Counts statistics

As the demand for meat or other livestock products is increasing in the integrated food chain, animal feed has become a crucial component. To this end, protein supply in feed for livestock production has emerged as a topic of debate and concern with the general public. Examining the protein ingredients in animal feed, soy protein concentrate is the most common ingredient used in feed for young animals. It contains 65% crude protein. 

Additionally, high-quality soy protein isolate is ideal for milk substitutes for newly born ruminants and pigs while replacing other most expensive protein sources. 

In the coming years, the demand for more sustainable plant-protein sources is projected to gain momentum, credited to the developments being made by companies. Benson Hill, for example, launched an all-new soy protein ingredient portfolio. Named Truvail, the brand features unique sustainability benefits for diverse food applications. This would allow food manufacturers with immediate cost, water and carbon use supply chain benefits. Such advancements are supporting the soy protein ingredients market expansion.