iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association (SFPWA) has requested the Indian government to allow the soy food processing industry to import 50,000 metric tons of food specialty soybeans from the US on “zero” duty under tariff-rate quota (TRQ).
Soy is not a staple food in India, hence the requirement to process and serve the best optimal quality to customers is paramount. With specialized modern food processing techniques and scientific interventions, soy food companies have improved quality, but due to a lack of affordable, high-quality raw ingredients, we feel challenged for new growth opportunities, pointed out SFPWA.
There are over 2,000 small, medium and large-scale units positioned all across the country representing the soy food processing sector. It is also one of the preferred business categories operating in the food processing sector.
The industry has also generated ample employment opportunities across soya cultivation regions. In addition to providing low-cost nutrition, it complies with the Nutrition Mission of India, said SFPWA.
According to K Sarat Chandra Kumar, president of Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association, inconsistent and inferior raw soybean quality is the leading cause of dissatisfied consumers wanting better taste, texture and flavor profiles.
Kumar said: “Indian soybeans are oil and meal centric, suitable for animal utilization. There are no food specialty soybeans grown in the country, thus the supply of the same does not exist.”
“While all Indian beans are non-GM (genetically modified), they are also treated as commodity beans regardless of the end use, be it in the food or feed industry,” he added.
When soybeans are needed for food applications, Indian manufacturers are seen to grade and select the best beans available and market at a premium price. Unfortunately, this does not qualify the specialty food characteristics and fails to match up with the quality standards and expectations of the consumer’s choice. “As a result, many Indian soy food processors are now forced to shut down,” he added.
Noting that soy is the safest, most affordable, and highest quality source of protein in India, Sumit Agarwal, vice-president, Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association, said that with the lack of suitable food-grade specialty produce, the food processors are constrained.
This limits business opportunities, job creation, and revenue generation, as well as deprives Indian’s access to high-quality and affordable nutritional protein source.
Therefore, zero duty under TRQ will allow consumers access to tasty, healthy, protein-rich food source in addition to assisting soy food companies to not only sustain, but grow their businesses.
Quoting a recent disseminated paper on Protein Paradox, the association stated, India accounts for 32% or 46.6 million of the world’s stunted children.
Moreover, 84% of Indian vegetarian population is protein-deficient, leading to a myriad of health consequences, like resistance in immunity to Covid-19. It also accounted for 66% of the 1.04 million fatalities of children under the age of five attributable to malnutrition.
Non-GM specialty food-grade soybeans are grown in the US with specific varieties and traits for various soy food applications. These are Identity preserved (IP) and have been regularly preferred and supplied directly to soy food manufacturers in SE Asia, China, Japan and other countries. These exclusive technical features produce high quality and no smell products which have greater acceptability.