The Purdue University Food Entrepreneurship and Manufacturing Institute has been awarded a $1.1 million grant from the United Soybean Board. Purdue says the funding will support a project to build infrastructure and connectivity for small- and medium-scale processing of soy-based products.
The project, which is a partnership with the University of Arkansas and the University of Missouri, was spurred by nationwide discussions regarding the soybean value chain. Purdue Associate Professor and FEMI Director Dharmendra Mishra is leading the project.
“Soybeans currently produce the highest protein yields per unit area compared to all other plant-based sources,” Mishra said. “The major challenge is that quality issues with flavor and functionality have impacted the utilization of currently available soybean protein products for food.”
Purdue says the project will “focus on phenotyping for compositional traits in novel value-added applications, trials to eliminate pressure on small- to medium-scale industry sectors and final product quality and sensory evaluations.”
Mishra says the global demand for soy protein isolate/concentrate is expected to increase 80 times, and the global meat substitute market is estimated to be valued at $140 billion by 2029.
“There was a critical need to help the soybean farmers and soy processors,” Mishra said. “Our project proposes to solve the bottleneck of small- and medium-scale processing and facilitate the scale-up of identity preserved (IP) systems through our multistate team. Our project fits in the overall strategic vision of the connectivity for soy users to the market.”
The project, which kicked off at the beginning of the month, is expected to last one year.
“Soy-based products have continued to grow over the past years and are expecting continued growth into the future,” said Senay Simsek, department head and professor of food science. “With this grant, Purdue Food Science will be a hub for research, development and education that will make connections and bridge the gaps between growers, breeders, researchers, students, the food industry and consumers.”
The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is also supporting the project with partial funding. The organization supports research activities that address plant health and production, agricultural economics and rural communities, and agricultural and food security.