History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Latin America - Page 2

by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi

A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and
Soyfoods, 1100 B.C. to the 1980s

©Copyright 2004 Soyfoods Center, Lafayette, Californi

Page 1 | Page 2

1970-1980s . By 1980 Mexico had the second largest population in Latin America (after Brazil) and the second highest per capita income (after Venezuela). Mexico was also the second largest consumer of soybeans for feed and food (after Brazil), and the largest soybean importer. Soybean production in Mexico continued its rapid rise during 1970-75, growing from 240,000 tonnes to 625,000 tonnes, then it faltered and in 1981 was only 600,000 tonnes (84??). Instead of producing its own soybeans, Mexico had chosen to import them from the US, probably?? because US soybeans cost less. By 1980 (now??) Mexico was importing from the US a record 931,000 tonnes of soybeans, 50,000 tonnes of soy oil, and 178,000 tonnes of soybean meal. The soybeans grown in Mexico provided less than one-fourth of the country's total needs.

During the 1970s soybean production expanded from Sonora and Sinaloa (still the two main producing states) into other states. By 1975 they were being grown in Chihuahua (which borders on New Mexico and Texas) and most of Mexico's other northern states, as well as in Jalisco, a west-central state.

Much of the credit for expanding interest in soybeans and soyfoods in Mexico (and in many other Latin American countries) goes to the American Soybean Association (ASA) and to the first director of its Latin American office, which was opened in Mexico City in 1971. As noted earlier, Mexico was chosen for the site since it was then and still is the largest Latin American importer of soybeans and soybean products from the US and since it is the closest country to the US. ASA market development work, in cooperation with various government agencies, helped raise demand for and production of soy protein products (mostly soy flour and textured soy flour) from 2 tonnes a day in 1971 to over 40 tonnes a day in 1975. By 1980 US soybean exports to Mexico were more than five times the total soybean exports to all Latin American nations.

The Mexican government played an important role in the development of soyfoods and their introduction to both urban and rural populations. In the early 1970s, when the President of Mexico, Lic. Luis Echeverria, was starting his new term of office, he created the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) at the cabinet minister level. The general director of the Council, Ing. Eugenio Mendez, who was also Minister of Communications and Transportation, announced publicly that he considered "soya a natural part of the diet for the Mexican people." One of his first questions to his collaborators was: "Why has there not been initiated a program to include soya in human nutrition" (Harrison 1972). After months of study a national nutrition program was developed and one of the first and most important foods in this program was Soyacyt, developed jointly by the National Institute of Nutrition (INN) and the private firm Industrial de Alimentos. This weaning beverage, contained 18% whole (full-fat) soy flour, 18% nonfat dry milk, 48% sugars, plus 4.4% dry milk whey, glucose, salt, and cocoa and malt extract flavors. It had a protein content of 23.4% in powdered form. Readily soluble in water and requiring no cooking, it made a nutritious drink that cost only US$0.15 per liter. The program to market Soyacyt was approved by President Echeverria in February 1972; it was expected that 5 tonnes a day would be needed (Harrison 1972). By 1975, however, only 250 kg a day were being made and sold (American Soybean Assoc. 1975).

In 1973 the Mexican government began developing a group of ground beef and pork products extended with 20-30% textured soy flour, usually in the form of Spanish-spiced sausages containing about 48% protein. The first of these, called Proteida, was first marketed in 1974 by the state enterprise IDA. In 1975 Mol-Ida was introduced. By 1975 some 3 tonnes a day of Proteida and 12 tonnes a day of Mol-Ida were being sold. By 1981 ambulant government stores and markets had achieved sales of up to 10 tonnes a day of Proteida (with 30% soy flour) and up to 20 tonnes a day of Mol-Ida (with 20% soy flour). These figures indicate that the concept of animal protein products extended with soy protein products was well accepted by the people. Mexico was one of the first countries in which the extension of animal products by soy had been utilized in nutrition programs; by 1981 it was a part of the Mexican national food program (Morales et al. 1981). Moreover, after 1973, because of the strong initiative and leadership of the federal and some state governments, many public and private groups were formed throughout Mexico to promote soyfoods. In addition, the number of natural food stores selling soyfoods increased greatly.

International events featuring soy in the mid-1970s in Mexico stimulated the growing interest. In April 1974 the prestigious American Oil Chemists' Society held its annual spring meeting in Mexico City and 13 papers were presented at the "Soy Protein Symposium," a number of them by Latin American Researchers (Wilding 1975). On 9-12 November 1974 the historic First Latin American Soy Protein Conference was held in Mexico City, sponsored by the ASA and the US Foreign Agricultural Service (American Soybean Assoc. 1975). The conference was attended by 248 participants from 21 Latin American nations plus 53 participants from the US, most of them leaders in human nutrition and soyfoods processing. Some 28 papers were presented, 16 of them by Latin Americans and 12 by representatives from the US. Dr. Hector Bourges from the National Institute of Nutrition (INN) and Prof. Ruben Berra from Mexico's UNAM University were among the five organizers of the Conference. A number of the papers emphasized traditional low-technology soyfoods and grass-roots education: "Soyfoods Technologies in East Asia" by Raul Tovar; "Plans for the Diffusion of Soyfoods at the Rural Level" by Ruben Berra and "Educational Program for Rural Soyfoods Consumption" by Luis Fajardo. The conference and its proceedings (which were published only in Spanish) played a major role in furthering interest in soyfoods.

Starting in 1976 a number of state and federal public organizations and governments began to do pioneering work in introducing soyfoods. Foremost among these were CIATECH in Chihuahua, the Government of Guerrero, and the National Institute of Nutrition. CIATECH (Centro de Investigaciones y Asistencia Technologica del Estado de Chihuahua) in the northern state of Chihuahua started work in soy processing technology in 1976, focusing their attention on whole (full-fat) soy flour. In March 1978 President Portillo inaugurated CIATECH's soy flour plant, which cost $2,262,000 (US) and had a capacity of 4 tons (tonnes??) per 8 hours, and by June 1980 was making 250 tons a month of corn flour enriched with 8% whole soy flour for tortillas. In November 1979 the group started a plant in Albachisa to produce a drink based on whole soy flour. In November 1978 CIATECH began to study low-cost extrusion cookers (LECs), even making their own machines, and by December 1979 they had used one as the basis for a plant set up in Almesa and, again, inaugurated by Mexico's president. Located near the rural Turahumara Indians, the plant produced 30 tons?? a month of soy-enriched corn flour and 5 tons?? a month of soy-enriched pinole (ground corn); these were used primarily to improve the diet of the Indian children. CIATECH's pioneering work is setting a vital, practical example of the great potential of soy to improve local diets and provide jobs using local, understandable technology (Griensen 1981a,b).


Starting in 1977 the Coordinated Services of Public Health in the State of Guerrero began an active program of introducing soybeans into the diet of the people in that state. The governor, Ruben Figueroa, strongly encouraged soybean production and Dr. Nuren Banfunzi, head of the Department of Promotion and Diffusion at ISAAEG (Instituto Superior Autonomo de Estudios Agropecuarios de Guerrero) with a PhD in plant genetics has done some of the best work in Mexico with soybeans and soyfoods. He was instrumental in developing a special soybean called BM-2 (or ISAAEG-BM-2), which is bland in flavor and especially suited to tropical climates. And he has done very effective social work in Guerrero, Monterrey, Michoacan, and Queretaro, introducing soyfoods and developing recipes suited to local tastes. The general Guerrero program had three components: (1) use of soybeans to complement the basic maize-bean diet; (2) development of low-cost soyfoods; and (3) substitution of soybeans for less profitable crops. Local cadres were trained in nutrition, health, and social services. Some 250 recipes were developed for using soyfoods in regional dishes. Emphasis was placed on using fresh green soybeans, especially the BM-2 variety which was developed for this use. Seeds and beans were sold at state health centers year-round. Demonstrations showed how to make soymilk and to use soy in enchiladas, tacos, and doughnuts (Baldwin 1981).

Starting in 1972 the National Institute of Nutrition (INN) in Mexico City began to conduct research on food technology that is of social interest, sponsored by PRONAL (Program Nacional de Alimentacion). Camacho, Bourges, and Morales did important work in adapting soyfoods to the Mexican diet. They used soybeans to fortify cereal grain products, such as tortillas, atoles, pasta, instant soups, infant beverages, and infant purees. They used soy flour (plain and textured) to extend meat and milk products, and developed three types of soymilk, quick cooking soybeans, and fresh green soybeans (Camacho et al. and Morales et al. 1981). Also in 1975 Berra and Pontecorvo at the Food Science Chemistry Department of the National University of Mexico published work they did on developing whole soy flour, soymilk, and atole for rural Mexico, based on processes developed at the USDA in Peoria, Illinois.

An independent soyfoods pioneer in Mexico who deserves special mention is Blanca Dominguez de Diez Gutierrez, a small, sparkling-eyed woman who, initially alone and unfunded, has taught the many uses of soyfoods to people (especially women in poor villages) throughout Mexico. She became interested in soyfoods after reading The Book of Tofu in 1976. In 1977 she founded a Yoga Center in the village of Tepoztlan, Morelos, but after seeing poverty and malnutrition all around her, she gave up her position as president of the Center to devote herself entirely to teaching others about soyfoods and better nutrition. She developed a low-cost, tasty, and easy to practice system of nutrition based on protein complementarity from soyfoods and grains (including underutilized grains widely used only for livestock feed) plus the use of sprouts. Using this nutritious model, which was a great success wherever it was introduced, she began to develop soyfoods recipes and preparatory techniques that were suited to local tastes and would help lower income people to help themselves and provide their families with better nutrition. In 1977 Dominguez's booklet "Los Mil Usos de la Soya" (The Thousand Uses of Soy) was published as an entire issue of the popular magazine Quadernos de Natura by Editorial Posada. Shortly thereafter the magazine published two articles about Dominguez's work ("The Soy Cooperative" [1980] and "The Woman who is Taking Soy to the Countryside" [April 1978]) and then in 1978 a major book on soyfoods and Dominguez's system of nutrition featuring soyfoods and whole grains: Alimentacion Integral Para Una Vida Plena: Los Mil Usos de la Soya . Focusing on low-technology soyfoods such as fresh soy puree, soymilk, tofu, okara, roasted soy flour, and soy sprouts, plus many original recipes, this was the first book of its type in Latin America. A second printing was out within a year.

Dominguez was one of the first people in Latin America to grasp the spirit of the soyfoods movement in the US and to see the great potential for working directly with the people to introduce soyfoods "from the bottom up." Her fine publications were accompanied by lots of hard work with local people. In 197?? in Tepoztlan she founded the Soya Cooperative Padma Xochitl, with the help of three teachers there whose students regularly fell asleep in class from lack of a proper breakfast--or any breakfast at all. A number of people joined with Dominguez, working with a most creative and generous spirit, to make the Cooperative into a very active and extremely effective center of soyfoods information: Victor Ariel Barcenas, Albino Quiroz, Marisela Penaloza de Quiroz, and Coti Nava deserve special mention. The fine work started here first reached the people of Morelos, then quickly spread throughout Mexico. It proved that soyfoods in conjunction with the new yet traditional diet were well received wherever they were tried.

Dominguez was a creative and inspiring teacher and the people with whom she worked felt her love and care. She developed tofu chorizo (like a garlic sausage), enchiladas, and tamales, pozole (stew), soy-flour enriched masa, and many soymilk recipes. Women understood quickly when she showed that from 16 pesos of soybeans they could get 10 liters of soymilk (worth 130 pesos) and 1.5 kg of okara (worth 150 pesos). She asked that women pay for their classes by teaching 10 other women what they had learned. Deploring that food had fallen into the hands of men, who thought only of its monetary and rarely of its nutritional value, she never failed to teach of the dangers of junk foods (like proliferating soft drinks) and the ease with which traditional diets could be improved with soy.

Dominguez worked closely with a host of other people, who in turn became soyfoods teachers. Maria Esther Rosete of IMSS did pioneering work with Dominguez introducing soyfoods into her area and to the workers and their wives at a big sugar mill in Zacatepec. They gave many demonstrations and trained volunteers who introduced the healthful diet in many places in the state of Morelos. In 1980 Maria Esther was transferred to Xalapa, Veracruz, where she continued her work with soyfoods with great effectiveness. In 1981 Dominguez was invited to train a group of social workers, nutritionists, and cooking teachers there to take the diet to villagers, schools, and the poorest sections of the city. In 1979 Dominguez was invited by the Teachers College in the state of Durango to train a group of teachers in using soybeans. Today this college has a one-semester course in the theory and practice of soyfoods use, directed particularly at rural teachers. Senora^ Elvia de Jesus Hidalgo de Sanchez, one of Dominguez's former students from Tepoztlan, who initiated the program, has also trained one hundred volunteers from the DIF (Family Integral Development) in Durango and given many soyfoods courses throughout the state of Durango, including at the Agricultural Experiment Center. Starting in 1979 Laura Mendez, earlier from the Tepoztlan Cooperative, worked with Dominguez and many others to introduce soyfoods to the state of Mexico. Obdulia Herrera Bazan, Dr. and Mrs. Arturo Aldama, Arcadia Ramirez, and many others also did fine work with soyfoods.

In late 1981 Dominguez, who had previously worked entirely without outside financial support, was invited by DIF in the state of Veracruz to work for one year as an employee teaching about soyfoods. She developed a nutritional program for the state and trained a group of young nutritionists, who taught soyfoods to housewives, jails, orphanages, etc. throughout the state, emphasizing home preparation of low-cost substitutes for meat and milk. The program was a great success, and many of these and other workers gave generously of their time, energy, and money with almost missionary zeal in the strong belief that soyfoods could play a key role in uplifting the poor and improving their diet. Throughout this ongoing work, Dominguez viewed her efforts as a part of their spiritual practice of Yoga, to serve others selflessly and lovingly, to help relieve suffering.

Private industry also played a key role in pioneering soyfoods in Mexico. The earliest known producer of soyfoods (soymilk and textured soy flour) was the Seventh-day Adventist company, Alimentos COLPAC, in Navojoa, Sonora, which started in 1968. By 1981 (84??) there were at least six companies making soymilk, three making tofu, six making whole soy flour, and seven making defatted soy flour, textured soy flour, or other modern soy protein products. As of 1981 (84??) the largest manufacturer of soy protein products in Mexico was Industrial de Alimentos, which began to study soyfoods in 1967. Their three basic products are a whole soy flour, a soymilk powder (SOYACYT), and a textured soy flour used in a very popular extended ground meat product called PROTOLEG.

In Mexico, soy flour promises to be the most widely used soyfood. In 1976 18 tons a day of whole soy flour were being used for human food as compared with 6 tons?? each of soymilk (and related products) and of textured soy flour (Pontecorvo 1976). Harrison (1976) estimated total soy flour consumption to be about 40 tons?? a day, with 60% of it being used in bakery-type products, not for nutritional purposes, but to replace more expensive milk and eggs. The DIF (formerly Mexican Child Protection Institute) was feeding soy-fortified sweets, Nutrimpi and Yemita, to hundreds of thousands of children daily. Mexicans consume about 8 million tons of tortillas a year and only 5% soy flour enrichment would require the use of 400,000 tons of soy flour a year. Likewise for bread.

The 1980s ushered in a number of important developments for soyfoods in Mexico. In 1980 the American Soybean Association opened a Human Nutrition Center in Mexico City, designed to teach nutritional leaders (dietitians, nutritionists, home economics teachers, and cooks) how to use soyfoods in institutional foodservice systems such as schools, hospitals, and factories. In November 1980 the World Conference on Soya Processing and Utilization, sponsored by seven organizations (including the ASA) in the US and Mexico, was held in Acapulco. It drew some 1,100 participants, including 600 professional registrants, from 42 nations. Approximately 300 registrants and 250 student attendees were from Latin America. Like the first ASA conference in 1975 its focus was strongly on high-technology soyfoods but with some good treatment of village-level and low-technology. The 420-page proceedings were published in the March 1981 issue of the Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society , edited by Baldwin. A critical review was done by Leviton (1981). In December 1981 La Soya y Sus Derivados: Tofu, Miso, Tempeh by Shurtleff and Aoyagi was published in Mexico, furthering the introduction of low-tech soyfoods. At about the same time Soya-Avena (sp??), a soy/oatmeal blend, had become popular enough to be added to the government's list of basic food basket items, to be used in future price index calculations.

By 1980 an estimated 98% of the soybeans in Mexico were being used in animal feeds, as the petroleum boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s led to increased consumption of meat (especially chicken) among upper income groups. In mid-1982, however, the Mexican government declared a financial emergency and devalued the peso dramatically. Inflation soared and hardship set in nationwide. The devaluation greatly raised the price of imported soybeans and soybean products, which will probably reduce the imports and stimulate domestic soybean production and processing. All of this should be very helpful in promoting the spread of soybeans and soyfoods.


The earliest known reference to soybeans in Argentina was in 1912, when Tonnelier wrote La Soja Hispida y sus Applicaciones , telling of work in Argentina with soybean varieties, culture, and analyses. According to Piper and Morse (1923) Argentina was the leading soybean producing country in Latin America by the 1920s. They wrote: "Extensive experiments have been conducted with soybeans during recent years in Argentina and the results are such that many planters plan to grow the crop on a commercial scale in preference to linseed as a restorative crop in rotation with wheat." Buenos Aires was the center of production.

Argentina's soybean production began its takeoff in the late 1950s, first topping 10,000 tonnes in 1957, then rising very rapidly and steadily after 1965. First in 1974, then finally in 1976 Argentina passed Mexico to become Latin America's second largest soybean producing country, after Brazil (see Fig. ??.??), and the fourth largest soybean producing country in the world. However Argentina also had the highest per capita protein and meat consumption in Latin America. Thus soy was not widely used in the diet, and meat extenders and substitutes were expected to comprise only 5% of the total meat consumption by 1985 (Predicasts 1974). Very little is known about work with soyfoods in Argentina. In about 1978 Granix, a Seventh-day Adventist food company in Argentina, began to make textured soy protein, which was used to support the government-proclaimed "meatless days," instituted to promote meat exports.


Paraguay . In 1921 Prof. Pedro N. Ciancio introduced the soybean to Paraguay and began the first culture trials. In 1951 he wrote La Soja y el Problema Alimentario del Paraguay , a 505-page book containing a 17-page English-language summary. The work contained good information about soybean cultivation, soyfoods nutrition, and production and use of soymilk, whole soy flour, roasted soy flour, and okara. Ciancio did extensive experimentation with these soyfoods and developed many interesting recipes.

Paraguay's soybean production started its takeoff in the mid-1960s, and grew rapidly after 1968. In 1980 Paraguay passed Mexico to become Latin America's third largest soybean producing country. The 7,000 people of Japanese ancestry who live in Paraguay play a role in the development of soybeans and soyfoods there. Because meat prices are low in Paraguay, a beef exporting country, little soy protein is used as an extender. However by 1976 pasta products were being fortified with 20% soy flour to conserve the limited wheat production.

Uruguay . Piper and Morse reported in 1923 that soybeans were being grown in Uruguay, yet Uruguay's soybean production began its takeoff only in the mid-1970s, making it the last of the top seven Latin American producers. In 1982 Uruguay produced 45,000 tonnes of soybeans, ranking the country in seventh place. Little work has been done to date with soyfoods.


Among the various countries in Central America (Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama), only Costa Rica has significant soybean production, but interesting work with soyfoods has been done in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.

Costa Rica . Soyfoods began to appear in Costa Rica during the 1960s. A soy-enriched tortilla was introduced using soy flour originally imported from Mexico. This is still popular?? In the early 1960s CARE, an American international relief organization, established a program in Costa Rica and by the mid-1960s began distributing Food for Peace (PL 480, Title II) soy-fortified foods (such as CSM) and soy oil as donations from the US government. These foods were given to nutritionally-at-need people free of charge. Then in about 1974?? the US government decided to discontinue this PL 480 program since Costa Rica was no longer considered a poor country.

Much of the current work with soyfoods in Costa Rica can be traced back to 1974, when Costa Rica passed the Development and Family Assistance (DESAF) law, which created the National Nutrition Program. The law aimed at improving the nutritional status of the country's vulnerable groups--infants, children, and pregnant or nursing mothers, some 500,000 people or one-fourth of the country's population. Costa Rica asked USAID (the US Agency for International Development) to help devise a strategy to carry out the feeding program. In 1976 AID gave the country a $6 million loan to finance research, which showed that the chief cause of malnutrition in local children was inadequate calorie intake. Further research pointed to soy-cereal blends as the most cost effective source of both calories and protein (Isralow 1983).

Thus, in 1976 the Government of Costa Rica, CARE-Costa Rica, and USAID signed an agreement to construct a low-cost extrusion cooker (LEC) food processing plant on the outskirts of San Jose to produce CSB (corn-soy blend) and whole soy flour for use in the nation's supplemental feeding programs. This, it was hoped, would replace the whole US food donation program. The processing system, which included a Brady extruder, was designed by engineers from Colorado State University. From October 1976 to September 1981 CARE received $500,000 from AID to help build the plant (the building and equipment cost about $400,000, including a $35,000 Alpine pin mill needed for grinding whole soy flour but not for making CSB). CARE contributed $350,000 and the government of Costa Rica provided $2-3 million in various forms, including the land, for both the soy processing plant and a soybean production program. By as early as 1977 a Brady extruder was being used by CITA (the Food Technology Research Center) to produce soy-cereal blends (Jansen 1979a; McLeod 1982 personal communication).

Meanwhile a soybean production program was getting underway. In about 1974?? INTSOY began doing variety trials in Costa Rica and in 1979 the first commercial planting of 152 hectares was done. Thereafter the area under cultivation doubled each year, to 450 ha in 1980, 807 ha in 1981, and 2,000 ha in 1982. Average yields by 1982 were 1,727 kg/ha, with some Honduran soy??beans giving yields up to 2,727 kg/ha (40.4 bu/a). CARE, which had two full-time agronomists working on soybean production, trained farmers and provided locally grown seeds and good inoculum. Prior to 1982 all soybeans grown in Costa Rica were grown under contract with CARE, and all soybeans used in the food plant were grown in Costa Rica; excess, lower quality soybeans were sold for animal feed, with the profits being used to subsidize food operations.

The food plant, run by CARE, started operation in June 1979 and began to produce 600 kg/hr of Nutrisoy, a corn-soy blend. But soon it was found that acceptance was not as good as for CSM or as predicted, for reasons that are still not clear. This led CARE to hire a food technologist to begin developing new products. By mid-1982 only 4-5 tonnes a month of Nutrisoy were being made; the product was being phased out.

By July 1980 the plant was making Pro-Nutre, a precooked tortilla. CARE published two recipe books to promote Nutrisoy and Pro-Nutre. In July 1981 CARE launched Frescorchata, an instant soy-cereal drink powder composed of equal parts whole soy flour and rice or corn, plus nonfat dry milk, cocoa, cloves, cinnamon, sugar, and vitamin-mineral premix. Packaged dry in 2.5 kg bags, with 16 bags in a 40-kg master pack, it is distributed for use in schools in the feeding program (400,000 beneficiaries) and in health centers (50,000 beneficiaries), where they are served to pre-schoolers and pregnant and nursing mothers. By mid-1982 Frescorchata was by far the plant's most popular soy-fortified product, with 60 tonnes a month being produced. In August 1982 Masarina, the plant's third product, went into production. Consisting of corn flour fortified with 7% whole soy flour, it was used to make tortillas and empanadas plus a variety of local foodstuffs in schools, and to extend meat. In May 1983 the plant started production of Vitaleche, a sweetened milk beverage containing 50% nonfat dry milk, 29.5% sugar, 10% each soy flour and vanilla??, and 0.5% cinnamon.

In the early 1980s a severe economic crisis struck Costa Rica; the currency was repeatedly devalued. The new austerity helped to make these nutritious, low-cost foods increasingly popular. In 1982 the food processing operation, initially subsidized by the Costa Rican government, broke even for the first time. Funds generated from the sale of PL 480 Title I commodities played a major part in the plant's operation. By October 1983 the plant, employing 25 Costa Ricans trained by Colorado State University, was making 17.2 tonnes of Vitaleche per 10-hour shift on some days, and equal amounts of Frescorchata and/or Masarina on others. By early 1984 total production of all of the above products was ??.? tonnes per week. All went into Costa Rica's National Nutrition Program, but in 1982 planning started to commercialize a number of them. (LIFE, Nov. 1982; Isralow 1983).

One key to the success of the Costa Rica program was the experience of the CARE staff. John McLeod helped to start the Sri Lanka soybean program. Justin Jackson and George Menegay both had experience in establishing food processing plants in other Third World countries.

By any standards, the work with soybeans and soyfoods in Costa Rica has been very successful. Interest and production have grown rapidly. As for the future, CARE is looking to enrich commercial products with soy flour. New soy products under development include spaghetti and noodles enriched with 10-12% whole soy flour, soy-fortified cookies (25% soy flour), soymilk, and a corn-flake-like product made from corn, soy flour, and rice, which contains more than twice the protein of locally made Kellogg's (17.5% vs 8%) and could retail for one-third to one-fourth the cost. In late 1983 CARE asked 10 commercial firms to develop the soy-enriched spaghetti to replace the commercially packaged product purchased for the feeding program. The new and more nutritious product is expected to be 30% less expensive because advertising and fancy packaging costs will be eliminated. With the processing plant as a model, the government of Costa Rica is looking for ways to interest private investors in installing an oil extraction plant to reduce the $15 million a year bill for imported soybean meal and vegetable oil. This would also, of course, greatly stimulate local soybean production. Meanwhile, plans are being made to transfer the soy processing plant to a private Costa Rican company, probably by the end of fiscal 1984. When that happens, the government will contract with the company for feeding program needs (McLeod 1982; Isralow 1983).

Guatemala . Pioneering work on nutrition in developing countries and on soy-fortified foods has been done by INCAP (Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama) in Guatemala City. In 1961?? INCAP began extensive testing of soy flour to use for fortifying corn and other local grains, as in corn tortillas, and in INCAPARINA?? The results were promising. Bressani and Torun have done pioneering work on soyfoods nutrition and presented their results in hundreds of journal articles and symposia around the world. Bressani was one of the organizers of the historic first soy conference in Mexico in 1975.

In early 1980 workers from PLENTY (a charitable relief organization run by The Farm in Tennessee) and the people in the village of Solala began growing soybeans locally (with the help of INTSOY) and opened the Solala Soy Dairy, which produced soymilk, soy ice cream, and tofu on a fairly small scale, as detailed in Chapter 68. Although the program was small, it received extensive publicity, especially in North America, and introduced a highly promising concept for Third World village development.

Nicaragua . The earliest known publication on soybeans or soyfoods in Central America appeared in 1934, when Torres Herrera from Nicaragua wrote a series of articles on soybean production and the many food uses of soybeans.


Of the many countries in this region, only Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Suriname have done significant work with soybeans and soyfoods. The earliest work was in Cuba and Suriname, but as of 1982 soy did not play an important role in the Caribbean.

Cuba . Cuba was under Spanish rule from 1492 to 1898, until the US declared war on Spain in 1898 under the pretense that Spain had sunk the battleship Maine. The US occupied Cuba from 1899 to 1901, then declared the Republic of Cuba, under the US tutelage, from 1902 to 1958. Castro overthrew the US supported dictator Batista in late 1958 and established his regime from January 1959.

Much of the early interest in soybeans in Cuba stems from US interest and involvement in Cuba at that time. The earliest known publication dates from 1920, when Calvino conducted extensive tests with US soybean varieties; yields of up to 1,435 kg/ha (21.3 bu/a) were obtained. In March 1921 the periodical Revista de Agricultura, Comercio y Trabajo (RACT) published a translation of William Morse's article "The Soy-Bean Industry in the United States." During the 1930s RACT ran many articles, originals and translations from English, about soybeans and soyfoods: "Cultivation and Utilization of Soybeans ( la soya ) as Forage" (Gonzales, Sept. 1932, based largely on research from US agricultural experiment stations), "The Soybean as a National Food" (Sept. 1932, translation of Horvath's 1931 "Soya Flour as a National Food"), "Cultivation of Soybeans" (Maruri, Jan. 1937, including industrial uses), "More Information on the Soybean ( el frijol soya ) and its Industrial Importance" (June 1937), "The Alimentary and Food Value of Soybeans" (July 1937 Ref??). Subsequent history is unknown.

Puerto Rico. Since 1973 INTSOY has carried on an active program of soybean research at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez.

Suriname (Dutch Guiana) . Probably the first country in Latin America to make active use of soyfoods was Suriname. Javanese began to emigrate there in 1890; most worked as small farmers. Then a wave of Javanese laborers emigrated from 1930-39. By 1964 roughly 13% of Suriname's population was Indonesian. Starting with the early immigrants, these Javanese brought their widely used soybeans and soyfoods with them from Indonesia (then known as the Dutch East Indies). In 1946 Stahel in Paramaribo wrote articles about both tempeh and tofu in Suriname, noting that the soybeans in Suriname were grown almost entirely for human consumption, and most were consumed in the form of tempeh. Soy sprouts were sold daily in the Paramaribo market, tofu was made in one small Chinese shop in Paramaribo, and ketjap (Indonesian style soy sauce) was also made in Suriname. He had interesting photographs of these various foods as they were made and sold.

Guyana (formerly British Guiana). In 1923 Piper and Morse reported that soybeans were being grown experimentally in Guyana, but apparently little came of these tests. In 1969 Monsanto, in conjunction with K.S. Lo of Vitasoy in Hong Kong (see Chapter 70), introduced Puma, a banana-soy isolate soymilk. In early years some 29 million bottles a year were sold, entirely through the retail trade, and the product was still on the market in 1976. 1984?? The Guyana Pharmaceutical Corp. has developed Cerex, a corn-rice-soy flour blend, which this state agency is producing and distributing to young malnourished children (Aguilera and Lusas 1981).


Soybeans and soyfoods have made fair progress since 1970 in the Andean countries of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, but they still play only a minor role there.

Bolivia . Soybean production in Bolivia started in the 1970s, passing the 10,000 tonne mark in 1975 and reaching 60,000 tonnes by 1982, to make Bolivia the sixth largest soybean producer in Latin America.

Work with soyfoods began in the mid-1970s. In 1976 Pedro Bleyer of Maisoy Inc. in Santa Cruz began to produce and sell Maisoy, a soy-fortified cornmeal made with a low-cost extrusion cooker, and consisting of 70% corn flour and 30% soy flour. The company obtained a 5-year contract with the Ministry of Public Health for product distributed by the Mother's Club to infant feeding programs. Production increased from 56,600 kg in 1976 to 141,400 kg in 1979. (See flour chart) The product was packed in plastic bags of 46 kg each. A soy-fortified corn-flake sold 52,400 kg in 1977 and 19,800 kg in 1978 (in Wilson 1979).

Chile . Soyfoods began to be used in Chile after 1970, when the country elected the socialist Allende president. Since 1971 Chile has had a school lunch beverage called Fortesan. Made from soy-enriched wheat flour and flavored with cocoa, it was developed by Dr. Fernando Monckeberg. An enriched wheat flour called Superchil was developed in 1974. Both products, manufactured by private companies, primarily serviced government-supported programs, although the development of commercial retail sale was also encouraged. Production of both products was about 16,000 tonnes in 1975, with some 1,000 tonnes sold through the retail trade and the balance distributed free of charge to children aged 2-6 years (Orr 1977). The private companies have also developed a soy-beef mixture called Protesal. Dr. Monckeberg has used the soyfoods he developed in a nonprofit system of 30 child nutrition centers called Conin, which he founded (Harrison 1981).

Colombia . Colombia introduced soybeans as an experimental crop in 1929 and began commercial production in 1955 (??in Baldwin 1981). By the late 1950s Colombia was the second largest soybean producing country in Latin America, after Brazil, and it kept that rank until 1963 when it was passed by Mexico. Still production climbed rapidly throughout the 1960s, but leveled off during the 1970s, rising to a peak in 1975, then falling. In 1982 Colombia was the fifth largest soybean producer in Latin America, producing 100,000 tonnes. Yet yields were very high, from 1,800 to 2,100 kg/ha (Bastidas Ramos, in Judy and Jackobs 1981).

In 1961 Colombia passed a law requiring the addition of 5% soy flour to all bread in the country (Ref??). The effects and enforcement of this law are not known. From the mid-1960s the Colombian company Productos Quaker (Quaker Oats) started making and marketing Incaparina 14, a relative of Guatemalan Incaparina that used equal parts soy and cottonseed flours for protein. Sales grew to about 2,000 tonnes in 1967 but although this Incaparina cost only one-eighth as much as whole milk powder and one-third as much as Guatemalan Incaparina, the company had discontinued the project by 1975. The Colombian Food and Nutrition Plan has used several soy-fortified foods, including Bienstarina, for which production was 5,000 tonnes in 1975. In 1980 two companies made fortified flours containing 20-25% soy flour for this program and about 3,500 tons (tonnes??) a year were being distributed under a government subsidized program using coupons which discounted 60% of the price (Aquilera and Lusas 1981).

Good work on soyfoods nutrition was done in Colombia by Diaz Delgado from ITT; he was one of the organizers of the historic 1975 soy protein conference in Mexico. By 1981 a Seventh-day Adventist plant was making soymilk in Colombia. Yet that year only 2% of Colombia's soybean production was processed for human consumption, although soybeans represented 14% of Colombia's edible oil production and 44% of its production of protein concentrates for livestock. Thus the soybean is used mainly as an oilseed (Bastidas Ramos, in Judy and Jackobs 1981).

Ecuador . During the 1940s and World War II, when there were shortages of milk, eggs, and meat, Ecuador began active promotion of soyfoods. The Secretary of Agriculture of the Ministry of Economics in Quito published five undated, large (2-by-3-foot) and colorful picture posters praising soyfoods. The bold slogans read: "Soya, the Food of the People," and "The Ideal Food for Children, Soya; More Nutrition at Lower Cost," and "Ecuador is Growing Soya, the Ideal, Nutritious, Inexpensive Food. Grow and Consume Soya." People were told they could obtain seeds from the Undersecretary of Agriculture in Quito and use soy as their basic source of protein in empanadas (pies), tortillas, fideos (vermicelli), galletas (crackers), sopas (soups), bread, and helados (ice creams), as well as for making soymilk or for use as fresh green soybeans (Ecuador Ministerio de Economica 1943?).

In 1976 Meals for Millions reported that a group of Ecuadorians living in the Sierras had adopted home-grown soybeans as a daily food; they roasted the whole dry beans, hand-ground them in a coffee mill, then mixed them with sugar to make Machica (Matchaka), which was eaten as a snack. Likewise it was reported that in the Baba Hein area of Peru an indigenous group has begun making their own soymilk, which was served mixed with cow's milk and strawberries (Bill Judy 1980, personal communication). We have been unable to get any more details about how or when these latter two foods originated, but some local research would probably turn up several interesting stories of historical importance.

Since 1977 the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health in cooperation with CARE and the World Food Program has been producing Leche Avena, a food supplement of milk, oats, and soy flour, distributed to 125,000 preschool children, 87,500 children, and 37,500 pregnant and nursing women. During 1980 CARE is expected to import 743 tonnes of soy flour for this program (Aquilera and Lusas 1981). Also in Ecuador a program has been started to enrich bread with soy flour. In 1980 the American Richard Jennings founded the TAO-FU Foundation in Quito and began making tofu for orphanages, day-care centers, restaurants, and food stores. By 1982 production had reached 55 kg (120 lb) a day and acceptance was greatly improved when the tofu was preseasoned with salt. In mid-1982 Jennings returned to the US to run a tofu shop in New Mexico and at that time turned the shop in Ecuador over to Arnulfo Ibarra, an employee of the Ministry of Agriculture, who was also actively interested in soynuts, both salted and brown-sugar-coated types. By 1982 Koreans had also started to make tofu in Ecuador.

Peru . In the early 1970s Graham carried out pioneering infant and child feeding trials in Peru using formulated soy protein isolate fortified with DL-methionine (Graham et al. 1970??). Peru established the Institute of Agri-Industry Research (IIA) in Lima and in about 1978 began working with USAID on a soyfoods project. At the same time INTSOY began working with private industry to develop a soymilk (liquid and powdered), soy fortified bread, and soy fortified noodles. By 1981 the soymilk was being widely distributed. In 1979 IIA and INTSOY published a 96-page Spanish language soyfoods recipe book ( Recetario Frijol Soya ) containing 80 recipes. Also private industry was marketing whole soybeans in 5 kg bags with cooking instructions.

Venezuela . Venezuela, which has the highest per-capita income in Latin America and is a major petroleum producer and exporter, has not done much with soybeans and soyfoods, though some interest started in the mid-1970s. The Venezuelan School Lunch Program replaced pasteurized cow's milk with a soy-fortified grain-and-milk formula, and Dr. Werner Jaffe has succeeded in getting the arepas furnished to children in the school lunch program fortified with 8% soy flour.


Page 1 | Page 2