Israeli seed breeding specialist Equinom has created a non-GMO soy with 50 percent more protein than industry standard soybeans. The high protein soy can be used to make plant-based milk and tofu products.
Traditional soybean breeding practices have focused on increased yield rather than boosted nutritional content, Equinom marketing director Itay Dana explained to FoodNavigator. Overall soy yield has increased by nearly 60 percent over the past 30 years, a US Soybean Export Council report outlines, whilst protein content has flatlined at approximately 35 percent.
However, better nutritional traits are becoming more sought after, inspiring Equinom to develop the high protein ingredient. Equinom’s soybean lines contain nearly 58 percent protein. This is 50 percent higher than industry standard soybeans, Dana said.
The protein-packed soybeans — which are created in a non-GMO environment with no gene editing or manipulation — could be used in plant-based milk, fermented natto, miso protein isolates, and tofu products.
Soy Protein in Vegan Meat
As well as soy with higher protein content, Equinom believes it can create better tasting crops with its computerized breeding technology. These crops could be used in alternative protein products like vegan beef to help alleviate some pressure faced by the plant-based meat sector.
Equinom believes vegan meat producers are faced with the challenge of achieving an appetizing flavor and texture. “There is a pronounced gap between customer-demanded organoleptic qualities that produce the tasty, appealing, nutritious meat-alternative products that are taking over the market, and the low-value varieties and qualities currently produced,” Dr Sigal Meirovitch (PhD), head of protein development at Equinom, said to FoodNavigator.
“Customers are seeking slaughter-free options but not at the expense of taste and texture,” Meirovitch added.
Environmentally Friendly Soy
Equinom’s protein-rich soy could also help to address environmental issues linked to soy production. Equinom’s seeds allow for more protein to be produced with less land, meaning that their production doesn’t require the high deforestation rates often witnessed in the industry. “When a large part of the industry is based on the protein content (which mainly goes to the milling industry/feed industry) increasing the content could reduce the deforestation, because you need less acres,” Dana said.