U.S. soybean farmers have successfully helped grow America's appetite for soyfoods year round. According to recent statistics, demand for U.S. soybeans and soyfoods is much greater than originally forecast by the soybean checkoff four years ago.

A major factor contributing to this increase in demand is the significant growth in soyfoods consumption, soybean checkoff-funded health research and soybean checkoff marketing activities to promote soyfoods.

In 1999, a checkoff-funded study conducted by LMC International Ltd. predicted that consumption of soyfoods and soy ingredients in food would utilize more than 66 million bushels of U.S. soybeans a year by 2005. According to a recent study published by Soyatech, an oilseeds research and publishing firm, consumption of soyfoods and soy ingredients in food has already reached the equivalent of over 250 milllion bushels of U.S. soybeans annually.

“The soybean checkoff funds research on the health benefits of soy and helps promote soyfoods to consumers, health professionals and the food service industry,” said United Soybean Board (USB) Domestic Marketing Chair Janice Peterson, a soybean producer from Bloomington, Ind.

“We continue to learn more about the numerous health benefits of soyfoods, and increased public awareness of these benefits is a key reason we've seen so much growth in this market.”

USB and the soybean checkoff funded the health research that scientifically established a link between soy protein consumption and the reduced risk of heart disease. In 1999, this discovery led to the Food and Drug Administration's establishment of a health claim on the cardiovascular benefits of soy protein.

“Now, we're also beginning to learn more about soy's role in the prevention of osteoporosis and some forms of cancer,” said Peterson. “In addition, many doctors currently recommend soy for menopausal women as a safe alternative to hormone replacement therapy.”

In an effort to identify more health benefits of soy, the farmer-driven soybean checkoff provides a $10,000 incentive to scientists who submit proposals to the National Institutes of Health for research on specific health benefits of soy.

According to the results of a checkoff-funded study on consumer attitudes on soy and nutrition, awareness of the health benefits of soyfoods rose significantly in 2002, with 74 percent of Americans now perceiving soy as healthy, up from 69 percent in 2001.

This heightened awareness of the health benefits of soyfoods has led to a significant increase in soyfood sales and demand for U.S. soybeans. In 2002, 42 percent of Americans reported they consume soyfoods once a month or more, while 28 percent consume soyfoods weekly.

The Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA), a nonprofit organization promoting soyfoods consumption, designated April as Soyfoods Month. The soybean checkoff, along with nutritionists, food scientists and food companies, is a member of SANA.

The soybean checkoff also partners with SANA to host the annual Soy Symposium, which provides information on soyfoods to marketing, research and product development personnel from major food companies. This year's symposium will be Oct. 8-10 in Chicago.

More information on soyfoods is available at the checkoff-funded Web site www.talksoy.com. This Web site provides specific information on soy products to consumers, media and health professionals.

The checkoff-funded Soy Connection newsletter is also available on this Web site. Soy Connection communicates health research on soy to registered dietitians, selected physicians, and family- and consumer-science professionals.

The newsletter is also published quarterly as an insert in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Another source of information on soyfoods is the 2003 Soyfoods Guide, also funded by the soybean checkoff.