The 2018 International Food Information Council Foundation Food and Health Survey released this summer shows taste and price are key drivers for consumer food purchases. But consumers also are interested in the healthfulness, convenience and sustainability of foods.
Such results confirm soy is a good fit for today’s food trends, given the versatile, plant-based, protein-rich options it provides. The Illinois Soybean Association checkoff program works to connect producers with consumers to keep soy top of mind for food choices.
The Soyfoods Council touts soy as a star among today’s many available food ingredients. Consumers have a heightened awareness and demand for quality protein — particularly at breakfast and as snacks — that is reinforced by consumer interest in foods for self-care.
Consumers want protein to power and energize their day. Restaurants are innovating around menu items that provide quality, healthful plant-based proteins, creating dishes that are delicious and nutritious.
Going forward, we may see even more plant-based foods in practically every aisle of the supermarket. The IFIC Foundation survey finds consumers view protein from plant sources as more healthful than protein from animals.
Millennials, especially, are interested in having plant and animal protein on the same plate — a flexitarian approach — which doubles the opportunities for farmers as soy is used as both a food and as animal feed for meat production.
When it comes to self-care, soy shines as a food ingredient. Research shows that calcium absorption from soy milk and cow’s milk are similar, and iron absorption from soy is excellent. There also is no evidence soy foods cause mineral deficiencies.
Convenience is an asset for soy foods, as many companies promote soy’s wide range of tastes, textures and functionalities. Manufacturers find if they can make particular foods with nuts, legumes or grains, they can make them from soybeans, easier, cost-effectively and sustainably.
Fried foods are considered an up-and-coming indulgence trend. Again, soy offers options through high-oleic soybean oil. The oil’s nutritional profile mirrors oils high in monounsaturated fats and is an excellent high-stability oil solution for baking and frying needs.
Other data regarding food purchases show 22 percent said it was very important to know where food comes from, 16 percent said it was very important to understand how food was produced and 16 percent said it was very important to access information about how food was produced.
The ISA checkoff program’s Soy in the City initiative is one of the ways Illinois soybean farmers are connecting Chicago consumers to soy’s benefits and sustainable production. To learn more about these efforts and how you can relay your story to consumers, visit ilsoy.org.