The Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association, an organisation representing soybean food processing industries, has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow the processing industry to import 50,000 tonnes of food specialty soyabeans from the US duty free.

In his plea to the Prime Minister, K Sarat Chandra Kumar, President, Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association, said the beans could be allowed into the country at “zero” duty under tariff rate quota since food specialty soyabeans are not grown in the country.

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Soyabean is not a staple food in India, hence, the requirement to process and serve the best optimal quality to customers is paramount. Though soya food companies have improved quality, “due to a lack of affordable, high-quality raw ingredients, we feel challenged for new growth opportunities”, he said.

Kumar said that inconsistent and inferior raw soyabean quality is the leading cause of dissatisfied consumers wanting better taste, texture and flavour profiles.

“Indian soybeans are oil- and meal-centric, suitable for animal utilisation. 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, they are also treated as commodity beans regardless of the end use, be it in the food or feed industry,” he said.

When soyabeans are needed for food applications, Indian producers grade and select the best beans from the general lots and sell them at a premium price, he said.

But they do not qualify to satisfy the specialty food characteristics and do not match up with the quality standards and expectations for producing retail-end products. As a result, many food processors are now forced to shut down, the soy food promotion body chief said.

According to Sumit Agarwal, Vice President of the Association, due to the lack of suitable food grade specialty soyabeans, food processors are constrained. “This is limiting the business opportunities, job creation, and revenue generation,” he said.

Taking into account the requirements of the consumers and food businesses, the association has appealed to the Prime Minister, Agarwal said.

The Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association said that these soyabeans that need to be imported are non-genetically modified food grade beans grown in the US that have lower oil content, higher inherent sucrose, low oligosaccharide (raffinose and stachyose) and stable protein structures making them highly suitable for food manufacturing.

The Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association said it represents over 2,000 small, medium and large-scale units across the country that provide low-cost nutrition under the “Nutrition Mission” of India.