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Government Recommendations Pave the Way for Growth and Innovation in India's Soy Food Industry

- Vinod Kumar 

India Takes Bold Steps to Revolutionize Soybean Consumption and Promote Sustainable Nutrition

New Delhi, 06 July 2023, :  In a groundbreaking development, India has taken significant strides towards transforming its soy food industry and promoting sustainable nutrition across the nation. The recently concluded International Conference on "Soy Foods: Sustainable Protein for Health and Wellness" served as a catalyst for change, bringing together experts, industry professionals, and government officials to explore the untapped potential of soybean production and consumption in India. The recommendations generated during the conference have paved the way for innovative national initiatives aimed at revolutionizing soybean consumption and establishing India as a leader in the global health and wellness landscape.

Recognizing the nutritional benefits of soybean as a high-quality protein source, the conference participants unanimously advocated for the general consumption of soy derivatives as a vital component of a healthy diet. Products such as soy grits, flour, textured soy protein, and soy-based lentils (dal) were highlighted for their rich nutritional profiles and potential to address the diverse nutritional needs of individuals across all age groups. To ensure equitable access to soy-based products, the conference recommended the integration of soy grits, flour, textured soy protein, and soy-based lentils (dal) into the Public Distribution System (PDS), which reaches a vast population across various socio-economic backgrounds. This strategic inclusion in the PDS will democratize access to soybean products and empower individuals to harness their nutritional advantages for improved health and well-being.

Moreover, recognizing the importance of nutrition intervention programs, the conference emphasized the integration of soy products, including soymilk, tofu, textured soy protein, and soy nuts, into the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programs. By incorporating these soy-based alternatives, these programs can offer children a well-rounded and protein-rich diet, contributing to their growth and overall development. In a pioneering move, the conference proposed the enrichment of fortified rice kernels with additional soy protein, capitalizing on rice's ubiquity as a staple food in India. This enrichment approach aims to optimize the nutritional content of rice by supplementing it with soy protein's superior amino acid profile and essential nutrients. This innovative method will significantly enhance the nutritional value of rice, benefiting millions of consumers across the country.

Sumit Agarwal, Chairman of the Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association (SFPWA), expressed his optimism, stating, "These groundbreaking recommendations have the potential to transform the soybean production landscape, foster entrepreneurship, and promote healthier diets in India. By implementing these strategies, we can significantly contribute to the nation's nutritional well-being."

Dr. Ratan Sharma, Technical Advisor of the Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association (SFPWA), emphasized the importance of these initiatives, saying, "The integration of soy products into key nutrition intervention programs and fortification of rice with soy protein will address the nutritional challenges faced by our population. It is a positive step towards sustainable protein consumption and overall health." 

These pioneering recommendations and the government's unwavering commitment will guide stakeholders, government bodies, and industry professionals in their efforts to enhance the nutritional landscape of the country and position India as a global leader in soybean-powered health and wellness. Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association (SFPWA) is a non-profit organization committed to promoting the production, consumption, and welfare aspects of soy food products.

The key government support recommendations include:

1.       Establishing standards for soy food products and appropriate nomenclature: Setting clear guidelines and quality standards will ensure the consistency and safety of soy food products in the market.

 2.       Including a Soy Food Promotion and Welfare Association (SFPWA) nominee as a member of standards/scientific committees for soy foods: By incorporating representatives from SFPWA, the industry's interests and perspectives will be effectively represented in the formulation of relevant standards and regulations.

 3.       Addressing corrections to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) tofu standards: Identifying and rectifying any discrepancies or gaps in the existing tofu standards will contribute to the improved quality and competitiveness of soy-based products.

 4.       Providing clarity on Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates for soy foods: Clear guidelines and appropriate tax rates will create a conducive business environment, enabling the industry to thrive and reach a wider consumer base.

 5.       Reducing customs duty on soybean imports: Lowering the customs duty on soybean imports will encourage cost-effectiveness and accessibility, thereby promoting increased soybean availability for domestic production.

 6.       Seeking health claims from the Government of India through the Ministry of Health: Obtaining official health claims will validate the nutritional benefits and health advantages of soy food consumption, leading to greater consumer confidence and demand.

 7.       Supporting generic campaigns to popularize soy food consumption through print and electronic media: Robust promotional campaigns will raise awareness about the benefits of soy foods, driving consumer interest and preference for these nutritious products.

 8.       Including soy protein ingredients in the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme: Incorporating soy protein ingredients into the PLI scheme will incentivize their use in various food manufacturing processes, facilitating market growth and encouraging innovation.


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