Seed World

Creating Specific Soybean Varieties for Food

Soybean Technical & Market Manager,

In 1999 Francois graduated as ‘Ingénieur en Agriculture’ from the ESA Purpan Toulouse, France. He then completed his Master in Agribusiness Management in January 2000 at the University of Illinois, USA. From 2000 until 2008 he was the Sales Manager and from 2008 until 2016, he was the Export Product Manager at Euralis. From January 2016 onwards he has been working as the Soybean Technical & Market Manager Europe at Lidea Seeds

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The European consumers’ behaviours are changing very fast. European consumers are reducing their meat and milk consumption for three main reasons: health, animal rights and environment. They replace more and more their meat consumption by meat substitutes from which 60% are soybean made. This is not surprising as soybean is the plant with the highest protein content with around 45%. For such consumers, it is great to see that more and more supermarket food products use soybeans, and the choice is much larger now than in the past. There are several categories, such as soy milk, drinks, yoghurts, flour, meat substitutes and tofu.

According to Donau Soja, AT Kearney and BCG, the meat substitutes market share is planned to increase from 5% today to 20% in 2025 and 30 percent in 2030. This will create a big demand for soybean varieties for human food.

All soybean varieties can be used for animal feed, but the feed industries prefer the varieties with the highest protein content to provide a higher quality soybean meal for animals. For human food, this is different. The needs of the industries differ between countries and factories. However, there are some common minimum characteristics requested by all food companies.

Lidea is in direct contact with the food industries to understand their demands and anticipate consumers’ behaviour changes. Our company also develops specific food research programs with different universities in Europe together with the industries.

Lidea has been breeding soybean since 1975 and has a long experience in the food segment with some very famous food varieties, which have become leaders all over Europe, such as ES Comandor (000), ES Mentor (00) and Isidor (I). For those who are interested, the full Lidea FOOD and HI-PRO portfolio can be found on:

Soybean varieties for food must have a high protein content and big kernels to optimize the industrial process. The proteins must also be easy to be extracted. The varieties must be harvested at the good stage to avoid any stress of the plant which decreases protein content. So, the genetics, maturity and agronomy are crucial.

Some industries do not dehull the soybean grains to separate the cotyledons from the hull and hilum. In this case, this process needs varieties with yellow hilum to avoid colouring the soy milk, whereas in France for example, all industries dehull, so they can use varieties with black or brown hilum. Some industries also taste the grains to discard varieties which give a strong “bean” taste. And there are also other requests like protein or enzymes composition, isoflavone content and so on.

However, the key elements for the farmers are the yield and the margin per hectare. The more specific criteria that are added to our breeders, the more difficult it will be to get a high yield variety. It takes nearly 10 years to create and launch a new soybean variety. Genetic progress is crucial and only financed by the purchase of certified seeds.

For all these reasons, Lidea, the n°. 1 soybean breeder in Europe is in direct contact with the industries. Therefore, we have created two specific portfolio segments to answer the food sector with all possible maturities:

  • FOOD varieties (varieties with specific food characteristics): leaders are ES Comandor (000), ES Compositor (000), ES Mentor (00), ES Warrior (0) and Isidor (I)
  • HI-PRO varieties (varieties with very high protein content): leaders are ES Bachelor (000), Combinator (000), ES Instructor (000), ES Inspector (00), ES Warrior (0) and ES Competitor (I)

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