History of Soymilk and Dairy-like Soymilk Products - Page 1

 

A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and Soyfoods: 1100 B.C. to the 1980s

by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi

Copyright 2007 Soyinfo Center, Lafayette, California

 

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Soymilk is an aqueous extraction of the soybean resembling milk. The nutritional composition, appearance, and flavor of good quality soymilk is remarkably similar to that of cow's milk. All traditional soymilks were filtered, whereby the okara (insoluble soybean pulp) was removed. Some modern soymilks are suspended, containing all of the original soybean except its hull, while others are made from soy protein isolates.

Etymology : The standard Chinese (Mandarin) term for soymilk is doujiang ; it first appeared in A.D. 82. Dou means "bean" (usually soybean). The character for chiang ( ) is different from the character for milk ( ). Chiang means "liquid, beverage, or drink," and is used to refer to a great variety of extracts or syrups. The Cantonese term for soymilk, written with the same characters, is tou-chuang . In the Pinyin writing system, the term is doujiang??

The Japanese word for soymilk is tonyu. To means "bean" (usually soybean), and nyu means "milk." The word for cow's milk, for example, is gyu-nyu . Starting in the 1970s commercial soymilk in Japan typically contained both the words tonyu and "soymilk" on the label. The dairy industry did not object to the latter term.

The present American English term "soymilk" evolved slowly, through many metamorphoses. The earliest references to soymilk were all in connection with the tofu making process, where the soymilk was mentioned only in passing. It was referred to variously as "the solution of legumin" (Kellner 1889), "this filtered stuff" (Rein 1889), "the fresh milky liquid" (Inouye 1895), "the milky white liquid" or "the filtrate of the cooked soybeans resembles milk" (Blasedale 1899). The earliest ancestor of the present term "soymilk" was "soy-bean milk," first mentioned by Trimble in 1897. In 1911 Li Yu-ying, in a US patent, referred to it as "soja milk," and the same year a Scientific American translation of an article by the Frechman Beltzer referred to it as "soya milk." In 1915 The Lancet in England called it "vegetable milk, synthetic milk, or artificial milk made from soy bean." In 1916 a British researcher, Melhuish, in a US patent, first referred to it as "soy milk" and "soy bean milk," two terms which have come to be widely used up until the present. It was also called "bean milk" by Johnson (1916, reporting from China), "soy-bean milk or vegetable milk" (Piper & Morse 1916), and "soybean milk" (Piper & Morse 1923). The first known use of the modern term "soymilk," spelled as one word, was by Helen Mackay in 1940. By the 1970s four terms were widely used: "soymilk, "soy milk," "soybean milk," and "soy beverage,' the latter having been introduced by researchers at the University of Illinois in the early 1970s. By the 1980s, "soymilk" and "soy beverage" had come to predominate. The former, the standard term adopted by the Soyfoods Association of North America, was used more in scientific and trade writing; it worked much better as an adjective (e.g. soymilk yogurt) than alternative spellings. The latter term was used more on labels and in commercial descriptions since, in the US the term "milk" could apparently be used legally only to refer to the lacteal secretion of a mammal. Actually most US soymilks were labeled only with fanciful names such as Soy Fresh, Vitasoy, Soy Moo, Soy-Ya!, Nutrosoya, or Numu (Leviton 1981). It should be noted, however, that terms such as "soymilk" had been the "common or usual" term in the US for over 80 years, a criterion which, we feel, should justify its commercial usage. Thus we and researchers from Cornell University have consistently used the term "soymilk" and urged its formal and legal adoption, despite pressures from the dairy industry to squelch it.

In France, the earliest known name for soymilk was the charming "fromage de pois liquide," ("liquid tofu," as used by Champion in 1866). In 1880 Paillieux coined its first real name, "le lait de soya." It was also referred to as "une imitation du lait" or "une emulsion laiteuse" (Egasse 1888) and "le lait vegetal" (Charles 1907, Demolon 1910). Its modern name, "le lait de soja," was coined by the soymilk pioneer Li Yu-ying, in 1911.

Early Germans writing about soymilk generally referred to it as "vegetabile milch" (Fischer 1914). The modern term "sojamilch," was coined by Fuerstenberg in 1917. The Dutch term "sojamelk," was used 1937 by Lanzing and Van Veen. The British term "soya bean milk" was being used by Kale in 1936.

Varieties of Soymilk . The many types of soymilk can be classified in a number of different ways:

By Degree of Filtration : (1) Filtered (or clarified) soymilk has had the okara or fiber filtered out. Traditionally the Chinese filtered soymilk before cooking, the Japanese after; (2) Suspended soymilk, made from wet-ground dehulled soybeans or from soy flour contains all of soybean fiber except that in the hull.

By Added Flavor or Nutrients: (1) Plain soymilk contains only soybeans and water. (2) Dairylike soymilk typically contains a little added sweetener, oil, salt, and often vanilla to give it a flavor similar to that of cow's milk; (3) Soymilk soft drinks or sweetened soymilks typically contain added sweeteners and flavorings (such as coffee, fruit juices, vegetable juices, etc.); (4) Cultured soymilks may be any of the above types that have undergone a typically lactic acid fermentation; (5) Soymilk infant formulas are fortified with methionine, vitamins, and/or minerals to meet the needs of infants; (6) Soymilk blends are mixtures of soymilk and other dairy or vegetable milks.

By Consistency : (1) Liquid soymilk may be either filtered, suspended, or isolate-based; (2) Powdered soymilk, typically made by spray drying; (3) Condensed soymilk.

By Method of Eliminating Off Flavors : (1) Traditional soymilk is made by grinding soaked soybeans with a little cold water; no attempt is made to remove off flavors. Techniques developed since 1900 include the boiling water grind (hot grind), pre-blanch, defatted soy meal, vacuum deodorization, soy protein isolate, and lactic enzyme fermentation. Most of these will be detailed later.

Stages of Growth : The spread in popularity of soymilk from its home in China to the rest of the world is a recent phenomenon, which can be divided into four major periods: (1) Ancient times to 1900 . Soymilk was made in small soymilk or tofu shops and consumed only in China; (2) 1900-1949 . Scientific interest developed in soymilk, its nutritional value, and its use for feeding infants in China or those allergic to cow's milk in the West. A few small soy dairies were started, both in China and the West; (3) 1950-1969 . The success of Hong Kong's Vitasoy, which had been introduced as the first soymilk soft drink, inspired many companies in East Asia to introduce similar products, which became very popular; (4) 1970-1981 . In the early 1970s new methods were developed, mostly in the United States (such as the soy protein isolate, hot grind, cotyledon pre-blanch, and defatted soy meal methods), which led to major improvements in soymilk flavor by largely eliminating so-called beany flavors, which had been a major obstacle to introduction of soymilk outside of China. It was also realized that soymilk, even at relatively low volume production, could be retailed for 15-25% less than cow's milk, which had always been relatively expensive in densely populated East Asia. The introduction of the Tetra Pak and Tetra Brik containers in the early 1970s made it possible to market soymilk in a colorful, disposable container that gave a shelf life of 6 months or more without refrigeration. All of these factors led a number of East Asia's and the world's largest food companies to make a strong commitment to manufacturing and marketing soymilk. Excellent products, reasonably priced and extensively advertised fueled the soymilk boom in East Asia. Soymilk began to be popular outside of Chinese-speaking Asia. Regional marketing in East Asia was begun by Nestle in about 1979. Soymilk began to catch on in Latin America, starting with Brazil.

HISTORY IN CHINESE-SPEAKING ASIA

We have chosen to divide the history of soymilk in Asia into two sections. The first concerns the history of those areas strongly influenced by Chinese culture; it is there that soymilk caught on first and is now used most extensively. In the other parts of Asia, such as Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia, soymilk has just begun to be popular.

Origin and Early Development . According to popular tradition, soymilk was developed in the second century B.C. by Liu An, king of Huai-nan, who is also said to have developed tofu at the same time. There is no historical evidence and probably no historical basis, however, for this legend, which first appeared in the late 1500s in the Pen-ts'ao kang-mu by Li Shih-chen. Actually, Li only attributed the development of tofu to Liu An, making no mention of soymilk. Later writers in both Asia and the West added soymilk development to Liu An's feats, reasoning that he could not have made tofu without first having made soymilk. For more about Liu An, see Chapter 13.

The earliest reference to soymilk (doujiang) in China appeared in about A.D. 82 in the Lun Heng by Wang Ch'ung. In the chapter called "Four Taboos" ( Szu-Hui ) it is stated that makers of soymilk fear that thunder will spoil their product. After that date there are a number of early references, as by the famous Taoist sage, Sun Szu-miao ( ), who left quite a few books on medicine and pharmacology. His comments on soymilk are quoted in the Sung dynasty pharmacopoeia, Pen ts'ao yen i , written in about 1116 by K'ou Tsung-shih.

It is interesting to note that the earliest mention of soymilk in China appears long before the first mention of tofu ( ). One might be tempted to conclude from this scant evidence that soymilk was popular before tofu and that tofu evolved from soymilk. Yet neither of these deductions may be true: early travelers to China, who mention tofu frequently, never mention soymilk or its use as a drink until the mid 1900s; many Chinese work that discuss the various types of soyfoods in detail make no mention of soymilk; even as late as 1848, Wu, in his extensive treatise on the soybean and soyfoods, made no mention of soymilk; and tofu may have evolved from a thick soup made of fresh soybean puree rather than from filtered soymilk, as explained in Chapter 13. It is also possible that the term doujiang actually referred to this soybean puree soup or soy slurry rather than to a filtered soymilk. Evidence for this point of view is found in the fact that the most popular traditional way of serving soymilk is as a spicy hot breakfast soup (xian doujiang), to which many soup-like garnishes (such as bonito flakes, bits of shrimp, diced leeks, salt pickles, salt, and spices) are added at the table. It is also served as a warm sweetened beverage ( tian doujiang ) drunk early in the morning or late at night. Both preparations are typically accompanied by #yu-tiao taso-p'i , long and twisted deep-fried crullers wrapped in flaky sesame tortillas, which are dipped in the piping hot soymilk as they are enjoyed. We know nothing of when or where these soymilk-based souplike dishes were developed or how their popularity spread. Yet in 1928 Tso, an expert on soymilk, wrote: "Soybean milk is a native food used in certain parts of the country as a morning beverage but is little used as part of the diet for children."

Most people in East Asia have not traditionally consumed animal milks or dairy products, despite an abundance of milk-producing animals such as cows, buffaloes, and goats. The nonmilking zone embraces all of Southeast Asia from Burma eastwards including China, Korea, and Japan. Nearby dairying peoples were the Mongols to the north and the Tibetans and Indians to the west. There are various sound reasons that animal milks have not been used in East Asia; (1) Physiological : Some 85% of the people in the nonmilking zone above the age of three years have low levels of the intestinal enzyme lactase that breaks down the lactose in animal milks into glucose and galactose, which can then be readily absorbed by the body. This, it should be emphasized, is the same condition that prevails in other land mammals and is believed to be the normal pattern found among primitive peoples: animal milk appears to be intended for baby animals only. Like the majority of people in the world, East Asians are lactose intolerant, and when they consume animal milks they often feel bloated and gaseous, and experience diarrhea, indigestion, stomach pains or cramps, general discomfort, and even vomiting. Other Asian peoples have circumvented this problem by simply fermenting the dairy milk (as with Lactobacillus to make yogurt), which breaks down the lactose; (2) Ecological : The densely populated portions of East Asia have never had much pasture land for grazing cattle or other milk animals, nor have they been able or willing to afford the luxury of feeding a milk cow 4 pounds of grains and soy protein to get 1 pound of milk protein in return. By contrast, the soybean produces more protein (as in the form of soymilk) per unit area of land than any other conventional farm crop. Thus soymilk provides more nutrition from less land at lower cost than dairy milk; (3) Cultural and Economic : The Chinese first encountered dairy products in the culture of the nomadic Mongolians, whom they considered barbarians and who later partially conquered China under Genghis Khan. The Chinese chose, by not adopting the dairy habit, to differentiate their culture from that of the barbarians. In addition, there was also probably a feeling that reliance on dairy products would mean reliance on trade with the barbarians, which would have tipped the balance of trade too far in the Mongols' and Central Asians' favor (Anderson, in Chang 1977, pp 326, 341); (4) Culinary : Many, if not most, Chinese dislike the taste of milk from cows or other animals. They describe it as having a dominant "animal-like" flavor just as many Westerners describe soymilk as having a "beany" flavor. In fact, a cookery book written during the Ching dynasty even gave a method for deodorizing cow's milk. Both the Chinese and Western preferences in milks are obviously acquired, but once the pattern is established it is hard to break. Moreover, there have been exceptions to the pattern of animal milk avoidance in Chinese history. The T'ang nobility, for example, used small amounts of animal milk, as did some Chinese ethnic minorities (Chang 1977).

In the basic Chinese method for making soymilk, the soybeans were washed, soaked overnight, and ground to a thick puree using a vertical-axis hand turned stone mill. The puree was mixed with (usually cold) water, then placed in a cloth-lined bamboo colander to allow the uncooked soymilk to filter through. The okara (insoluble residue) remaining in the cloth was washed several times with cold water, then the ends of the cloth were folded over the okara and it was pressed with a large rock to extract more soymilk. Finally the soymilk was boiled for 10-20 minutes before serving. The Japanese later modified this method in two basic ways: (1) the slurry was boiled before extraction of the soymilk, a few drops of shell ash mixed with vegetable oil being added to prevent boiling over; and (2) the okara was pressed using a lever press or other mechanic press to extract the soymilk.

Roots of East Asia's Soymilk Renaissance . The remarkable expansion of interest in and production of soymilk that was to take place in Chinese Asia starting in the 1950s and 1960s traces its origins back to the early 1900s. The first known Chinese soymilk pioneer was Li Yu-ying. As early as 1905 he was speaking in Paris about soymilk as a substitute for cow's milk and by 1910 he was running a soy dairy on the outskirts of Paris, making a creative line of soymilk products (see Chapter 29). In 1916 Johnson, a US commercial attache in China, reported on the "Manufacture of Bean Milk at Changsha," and suggested this as an opportunity for the US to sell milk bottles and caps to China. By 1917 the Tzu yuan (Commercial Press New Dictionary), under the term tou-chiang , had a table showing the composition of nutrients in soymilk and cow's milk. In 1919 Palen wrote that "In Shanghai, Peking, and Dalny (Dairen, Manchuria) Chinese companies are supplying hospitals and individuals with an 8 or 10 ounce bottle of concentrated (soy) milk per days at a cost of $1.00 (Mex.) per month." (Horvath, 1927, noted that the protein content of this "concentrated" milk was still generally below that of cow's milk.) In 1923 Piper and Morse showed a ?? of nutrients in soymilk and cow's milk. In 1923 Piper and Morse showed a photograph of soymilk being sold at Changsha in bottles, carried in baskets suspended from shoulder poles carried by delivery boys. Based apparently on correspondence with Westerners living in China, they wrote: "In China this milk is drunk by the Chinese in the early morning with some sugar added. It is also eaten as a thin broth with some salted pickles. Vegetable milk is extensively used throughout China for infant feeding. In many of the cities and town, factories are engaged solely in the manufacture of vegetable milk (soybean milk). This milk which is bottled is delivered each morning to regular customers . . . The bottles in use are purchased secondhand on the streets in Changsha. They are cleaned and when filled with milk are sealed with paper." Several Chinese writers would later deny that soymilk was widely used in infant feeding at that time.

There was a major growth of interest in soymilk in China, starting in the early 1920s and, oddly enough, much of this new interest was due to the influence of three Westerners doing research on soyfoods in China: Dr. William H. Adolph, a professor of chemistry at Shantung Christian University, Dr. A. A. Horvath, a Russian scientist working at the Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) and Dr. Harry W. Miller, a Seventh-day Adventist medical missionary and physician working in Shanghai.

In 1920 Adolph and Kiang published "The Nutritive Value of Soybean Products" in the National Medical Journal of China . This article, which contained the first nutritional analysis of soymilk ever done in China, stimulated a great deal of subsequent research. In 1932 Adolph and Kao showed that soymilk was a good source of iron.

Horvath had joined the staff of PUMC in 1923. Working under a Rockefeller grant, he was put in charge of a new soybean research laboratory and program. he reported that by 1925 soymilk was being made, sold, and delivered by big factories in Peking in small (200-220 ml) bottles labeled "Bean Milk." "Bean milk," he wrote, is popularly known as "the poor man's milk, and bean curd the poor man's cheese." He also noted that: much of the commercial soymilk was low in fat due to the Chinese custom of removing up to 30 fat-rich films of yuba from it first. The yuba was sold separately; the Chinese for centuries considered the taste and odor of cow's milk intolerable and those of soymilk agreeable; and in China there is a custom to give weak or anemic people a bowl of hot soymilk (about 400 ml) mixed with 2 eggs and about 2 ounces of sugar. This was to be consumed daily for 100 days. Between 1926 and 1931 Dr. Ernest Tso, Horvath's co-worker, published a series of six very important nutritional studies on soymilk, including the first studies on fiber-free soymilk in human or infant nutrition, starting in 1928. (Ruhrah and others in the US had done nutritional studies on suspended soymilks, made from soy flour, starting in 1910). Tso, in 1928, was also the first to demonstrate the possibility of raising an infant exclusively on fortified soymilk from the time of birth. The work on soymilk and infant nutrition done at PUMC by Tso and his colleagues Yee, Chen, Chang, Wan, Chu, Guy, and Yeh, continued until the late 1930s. They showed that fortified soymilk made a good substitute for cow's milk and cost much less. Tso and his co-workers were also aware of Sobee, a suspended soymilk made from soy flour in the US by Mead Johnson. In 1929 Tso published a nutritional study of this product. By 1938 Guy, who started merely researching soymilk nutrition, was producing soymilk at a Health Station in Peking, bottling it, and distributing it each morning to undernourished infants.

Dr. Miller, who first arrived in China in 1903, began his research on soymilk in China in 1925 or 1926; he made small amounts for use in nursing homes and hospitals, for feeding infants, children, and nurses. In January 1936 Dr. Miller, aided by his son Willis, opened a modern soymilk plant in Shanghai, the first of its kind in East Asia. It produced natural, chocolate, and acidophilus soymilk, 3,000 quarts and 4,000 half-pints a day. In April 1936 Miller and Wen published the results of their soymilk infant feeding studies in the Chinese Medical Journal . In May 1937 he was granted a US Patent for his Shanghai soymilk process. His work there thrived until August 1937, when his plant was destroyed by bombs and gunfire from the Japanese invasion. In 1939 Miller returned to America and began producing Soyalac.

At the same time that Dr. Miller was running his soy dairy in Shanghai, another one was being run independently in the same city by Ms. Nellie Lee, a Chinese graduate of Mt. Holyoke College (who worked for five years to spread the gospel of soymilk to the masses) and Julean Arnold of California, a financial advisor to one of China's top Marshalls; they had learned the soymilk process from Dr. Miller and from Drs. Tso (mentioned above) and Ho of Peking Union Medical College. The project was funded by the China Nutritional Aid Council, established in 1937 for the express purpose of popularizing soymilk. Set up in one of Dr. Fu's Children's Hospital in Shanghai, the soy dairy provided fresh soymilk free of charge for 25,000-37,000 Chinese refugee children a day as they fled the Japanese forces. The soymilk formula had been developed by Dr. Horvath and contained added calcium lactate, salt, and sugar. The project also distributed millions of biscuits containing okara remaining from the soy dairy process (Arnold 1945).

In 1938 an Adventist-run soy dairy started in Canton. Howard Hoover, a Seventh-day Adventist, had visited Dr. Miller in Shanghai, then started his own soy dairy and health-food plant in a mission school in Canton. Smith (1961) showed an interesting photograph of bottled soymilk, carried with shoulder poles, being sold on streets of Canton in 1948.

During the Japanese invasion of China soymilk was used extensively in refugee camps, especially for feeding infants and children. It saved many lives, while offering a unique opportunity for further observing its nutritional value (Smith and Beckel 1946; Ni 1939). Hou et al (1939*) reported studies showing that children receiving soymilk gained more weight than those not receiving it. After the War, the Chinese government took an increased interest in soymilk; they commissioned Willis Miller to build them a soymilk plant in Shanghai, patterned after Dr. Miller's plant in the US (Smith 1949).

People's Republic of China (1949 to 1980s) . As has long been the custom, soymilk today is generally prepared either in local tofu shops (people have a pitcher filled up when they bring their morning tofu) or in specialty soymilk shops, which serve it as a hot morning beverage in either of two forms: sweetened ( tian doujiang ) or as a kind of spicy, salted soymilk soup ( xian doujiang ), often served with long, deep-fried, twisted wheat crullers (youtiao) (Shurtleff and Aoyagi 1975). Both of these traditional dishes, using fairly thin, soymilk with a beany and often pronounced scorched flavor, are still widely consumed for breakfast in China today. A visitor to China in 1981 reported that many children drank soymilk, which was not the case traditionally, and that it often had an egg mixed in to furnish tryptophan, an essential amino acid.

Interest in modern soymilks, sold packaged like soft drinks or in other new forms, began to increase rapidly during the early 1980s and by 1983 was one of the "hottest" food subjects in China. Reasons for this growth of interest include the success of Vitasoy in Hong Kong and Yeo Hiap Send in Singapore, the spectacular rise of soymilk consumption in Japan, the great need for a low cost and nutritious beverage in China, promotional efforts by foreign companies selling soymilk equipment and technology, and the growing recognition by decision makers in China that the soybean will be one of the key protein sources of the future. Indeed during this period the image of soymilk in China, at least among government officials, was dramatically upgraded from that of a tradition, often poor quality product, to that of a modern, healthful, economical, and nutritious beverage, that could play a key role in China's modernization program by improving the diet and health of people of all ages.

Starting in the late 1970s, a parallel interest developed in modernizing and greatly expanding China's dairy milk industry. While animal milks were never a basic part of the traditional Chinese diet, starting in the 1930s, some affluent city dwellers started to drink cow's milk. By the early 1980s per capital national consumption was about 1 kg (2.2 lb) per year compared with 125 kg (275 lb) in the USA. Yet milk is tightly rationed in China, being available only for nursing mothers, children under the age of 3, and seniors over the age of 70. Much of this milk is recombined milk. The Chinese government, however, has committed itself to a major effort to expand dairy milk production and to promote it as an excellent and prestigious protein source, especially since 1980. Large dairy farms have been built in Guangzhou province in cooperation with Hong Kong businessmen. The most modern of these is the Kwong Ming Dairy Farm in Shum chu, just across the border from Hong Kong, which started operation in 1980 as a joint venture of the Hong Kong Soya Bean Products Co., Ltd. and the Government of China. Investigations by Danish dairy companies in China during 1979 and 1980 led to an agreement for a Danish delegation to develop a written report on how to improve the Chinese Dairy Industry. The Chinese set the ambitious goal of supplying each Chinese person with 250 ml (about 1 cup) of milk (either dairy or soy) per day by the year 2,000. This is 91.2 liters per year. To help implement this goal, the Danish government and seven Danish dairy companies developed "Master Plan 2,000," which related to all aspects of dairy milk production, from farms, feeds, and breeding stock, to processing plants and packaged, finished products. The first contracts were signed in April 1982 with financing from the Danish International Development Agency (Danida). A 137-page book Dairy Development Proposal: The People's Republic of China--1983 was published by the Danes. The soymilk component of this long-term plan, not mentioned in the book/proposal is now being developed and the key question is what proportion of the total milk will be soymilk and what will be dairy milks. Top level Chinese decisions makers recognize that soymilk has numerous advantages over cow's milk: it is less expensive to produce, makes more efficient use of scarce agricultural land, is a traditional popular food, creates no problems with lactose intolerance (a fairly widespread problem with cow's milk in China), and can be produced from soybeans that grow near major population centers (good grazing land is usually in remote areas, leading to large shipping costs, but most of China's dairy cows are concentrated in the suburbs of cities or in industrial and mining districts. Moreover soymilk is comparable in nutritional value cow's milk, except that it contains only about one-third as much calcium and no vitamin B-12. A number of China's top decision makers believe that soymilk will be much more able than dairy milk to meet China's growing needs. Yet to produce 250 ml of soymilk a day for every person in China, given that 1 kg of soybeans yields 6 liters of soymilk, would take about 15.2 million tonnes of soybeans, much more than the 9 million tonnes grown in China in 1983 for all purposes. This shows the need for increasing production of both. Hopefully dairy cows will be raised on forages grown on land that cannot grow for human consumption. K.S. Lo, a Hong Kong Chinese who founded the company that makes Vitasoy, noted that if he were setting milk policy in China, so as to bring the greatest net nutritional benefits to the greatest number of people, he would produce 90% soymilk and 10% dairy milk.

Another interesting possibility is for the development of a combined soymilk-cow's milk dairy, which would allow (1) savings on purchase of packaging, storage, spray drying, and shipping equipment, (2) use of some soymilk as a calf milk replacer, (3) use the soy pulp (okara) from soymilk production as a cattle fodder or to make tempeh, (4) common distribution and marketing systems, and (5) better plant utilization.

It has long been said that Chinese prefer soymilk with the traditional "beany flavor." Extensive research over several decades by Vitasoy in Hong Kong has shown that Chinese in that city like soymilk best when 60-65% of the beany flavor has been removed and where there is none of the traditional scorched or burned flavor. Be that as it may, Chinese decision makers seem to strongly prefer soymilk with no beany flavor, perhaps feeling that it is a more modern product. Eventually the opinions of the decisions and the taste preferences of the masses must be harmonized. There are also regional differences in flavor preferences. Plain and dairylike soymilks have been found to be more popular in the south, while sweetened and chocolate are more popular in the north. Unlike Americans and Europeans, Chinese prefer dairylike soymilk with little or no added fat.

The Chinese have been diligent in researching modern soymilk production. In January 1983 the American Soybean Association sponsored and funded a trip which sent a delegation of six people from the Ministry of Light Industry (MinLight) in Beijing on a ?? day trip to study soymilk production in Hong Kong (Vitasoy), Thailand (Greenspot), and Japan (Kibun, etc.). It is said that Kibun's soymilk was found to have the best flavor.

Because of the prestige and popularity that soymilk has acquired in China, various ministries have started to compete with one another to become the leader in the field. These include MinLight, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Agriculture, the State Farm Bureau (Soybean Processing Division), not to mention various provincial government organizations, and their research institutes and colleges. This rivalry, where one might expect cooperation, can be both wasteful and bewildering. Basically, however, the initiative belongs to ministries in Beijing, with MinLight in the lead; others will probably follow their lead.

Already a number of new, experimental soymilk products are on the market in China, usually developed by Ministry or university research labs and produced on a pilot plant scale. In 1980 the Beijing Foodstuff Corp. developed a sweetened powdered soymilk called Dou Jiang Fen (soymilk powder), consisting of equal amounts of spray dried soymilk and sugar; housewives buy it for breakfast use. A related product is Dou Ru Fen , a powdered white soy-dairy blend, sold in a 205 gm plastic bag. It contains 10% nonfat dried cow's milk, 40% traditional spray-dried soymilk, and an astonishing 50% sugar. Introduced in about 1979, roughly 1,000 tonnes a year were being made by 1983. A similar product containing chocolate, Ke Ke Douru Fen , was also sold in 250 gm bags in Beijing. In Wuxi city a company is spray drying soymilk to make a "longevity tonic" and a baby food. In Zhengzhou a powdered product called Doufu Fen (tofu powder), based on either whole soy flour or powdered soymilk, is widely sold in 500 gm bags and used to make soymilk, soymilk curds ( doufu hua ) and tofu. In Heilongjiang, China's leading soybean producing province, several experimental soymilks have been developed. The Bureau of State Farm's Wan Da Shan Foodstuff Factory has developed a soy-dairy blend called "Instant Cow's Milk Malted Soymilk Powdered." The factory makes its own soymilk by traditional methods. The Soybean Research Institute at Harbin has developed a new soy beverage, for which it received an award. Perhaps this is he summertime soft drink called Jimbo, sold in Harbin. A visitor to China in 1981 reported that many children now drink soymilk, often mixed with an egg to add nutrients plus the amino acid tryptophan. Guo (1982) reported that flash-desolventized soybean meal is being studied for use in place of whole soybeans to make soymilk.

As China prepares to launch modern soymilk plants, the American Soybean Association hopes to lead the way by donating a pilot plant in 1983-84. And already a number of foreign manufacturers of soymilk and soymilk equipment have their eyes on what is unquestionably the world's largest potential soymilk market, with 1 billion prospective customers. Vitasoy, which has been working to negotiate a joint venture with the Chinese since the 1970s, is rumored to have started production at a modern plant in Shanghai in 1983. The Swedish dairy firm of Alfa Laval linked with Japan's Kibun and the Danish Turnkey Dairies (perhaps linked with Vitasoy) are vying fiercely to be chosen as the suppliers of equipment for the first generation of modern Chinese soymilk plants. Soymilk plant projects are now shaping up in Beijing, Shanghai, Hunan, Tianjin, Shenyang, Guangzhou, Zhengzhou, and Heilongjiang. The Heilongjiang Bureau of State Farm has plans to build six plants to make soymilk powder, using 30 tons of soymilk a day, the last plant being completed by 1987. It hopes to export this powder, and also to make fluid soymilk for consumption in the province. A keen race among foreign suppliers is just starting. The Chinese are doing careful analyses of each supplier's equipment and process in terms of equipment cost, processing cost (including labor, energy, water, etc.), soymilk flavor, and protein and solids recovery. Foreign companies are asking how the Chinese will pay for these plants (international loans, vendor's agreeing to buy back some of the soymilk produced to be sold abroad), how members of joint ventures with the Chinese government (the inevitable partner) will get profits out of China in hard currency, and if the Chinese government will just buy one plant, then copy it to make the rest, or if they will continue to buy many.

China foresees many uses for soymilk. First, of course, is as a nutritious and thirst quenching beverage that the masses can afford. Flavors of interest are plain, sweetened, malt, dairylike, fruit (orange, apple, pineapple), chocolate, and lactic fermented. Ice cream, ice sticks (like Popsicles) and yogurt (in returnable crockery pots) all look promising, as do infant formulas or foods and milk replacers in other foods such as breads or pasta. The beverages will probably be sold in glass bottles or plastic bags (Stand-Pack or Pre-Pak), which are less expensive than the fashionable Tetra Brik. With Vitasoy in 250 ml Tetra Brik selling for US $0.18 in Hong Kong Supermarkets in June 1983, the Chinese hope that they can sell their soymilk for significantly less.

The future of soymilk in China looks promising, especially if the Chinese can find ways to develop sustained and mutually satisfactory business relationships and technology transfer programs with foreign companies and soymilk professionals. It remains to be seen whether China will emphasize low-cost nutritious drinks for the people, such as soymilk, or take the easier and more glamorous, but less nutritious and unhealthful approach, of emphasizing Western soft drinks, made under franchises or joint ventures, as with Coca-Cola. By 1983 China had Coca-Cola plants with 100 million bottles a year capacity and was also importing canned Coke. Yet one indication of the future may be found in a front-page article in the Asian Wall Street Journal (14 June 1983), reporting how official Chinese publications had blasted Coke as being unhealthy (loaded with sugar, caffeine, phosphoric acid), too expensive, and a drain on the nation's foreign exchange. As a socialist country, China has the ability to play down such detrimental junk foods in favor of a top quality product such as soymilk.

Hong Kong and Vitasoy . The early work that had been done in China starting in the 1920s bore its first real fruit in Hong Kong, where the first major step in East Asia's modern soymilk renaissance took place in 1940. That year the Hong Kong Soya Bean Products Co. began to make Vitamilk (renamed Vitasoy in the mid 1950s). The company had hard times during its early years and went out of business in December 1941 as World War II began. But in 1945 it started up again under the direction of K.S. Lo. The vitamin-fortified soymilk, marketed in standard half-pint milk bottles with a paper cap and hood, was now distributed through soft drink outlets, rather than being delivered door to door as a milk substitute, as it had been previously. In 1953 Vitasoy was first sold like a soft drink, in soft drink bottles, sterilized to give it a long shelf life. The new concept and new marketing channels led to immediate success. By 1964 Vitasoy had (temporarily) passed Coca-Cola to become Hong Kong's best-selling soft drink. Sales skyrocketed from 8.4 million bottles in 1955 to 42 million in 1960, 100.8 million in 1970, and 129.6 million in 1980. In 1975 Vitasoy was first sold in UHT/aseptic Tetra Brik cartons, which gave a big boost to its popularity, and in 1979 it started to be exported worldwide. The full story of Vitasoy is told in Chapter 42. In 1979 Nestle started marketing their Bonus soymilk in Hong Kong.

Starting in the early to mid 1950s, the new concept of soymilk soft drinks, which K.S. Lo had pioneered and made commercially successful in Hong Kong, began to catch on elsewhere in Southeast Asia, especially in areas having large Chinese populations, where soymilk has always been fairly popular.

Singapore . Soymilk soft drinks in Singapore were pioneered by the Yeo Hiap Seng Company, which had started operations there in 1935 as a soy sauce manufacturer. In 1952 Yeo Hiap Seng introduced Vitabean, a vitamin fortified soymilk soft drink, in Singapore and Malaysia. In 1967 Vitabean was first sold in Tetra Pak cartons. By 1976 production had climbed to 50 million bottles and cartons a year, and by 198 to 75 million (250,000 a day), prompting the company to build a new plant to double its capacity. In 1979 Nestle started making and marketing soymilk in Singapore; the company was controlled by Swiss-based Nestle with Singapore partners owning a certain percentage. Their Bonus soymilk, sold in Tetra Pack, did very well. By 1981 there were six large soymilk producers in Singapore. Magnolia Dairies, one of the largest, which also sells cow's milk, was selling some 40 million bottles and cartons a year of vitamin-enriched soymilk soft drinks. By 1981 there were also some 260 small soy dairies in Singapore. Soymilk was advertised almost daily on TV and in the print media, but only for brand promotion.

Taiwan . For decades, throughout Taipei and other main cities in Taiwan, there have been small stands, cafes, or restaurants specializing in soymilk. The open pot of soymilk simmering near the storefront serves to lure in customers, especially for breakfast and late night snacks. Starting in the 1960s and 1970s, the introduction of soymilk soft drinks began to give this traditional beverage a modern image, and consumption steadily increased. Miller (1965) noted that whereas in 1962-63, there was only one soymilk plant in Taipei, by 1965 more than 12 had sprung up all over Taiwan. The Taiwan Farmer's Cooperative, consisting of many small producers that sell bottled soymilk, is an example of a decentralized commercial success. In 1980 there were at least six soymilk plants operated by local Farmers' Associations, which marketed their soymilk only locally, within their townships. The largest of these, Lo-tung, produced 5,820,000 bottles a year; the smallest produced 350,000. In 1978, President Enterprise Corp., the first of the large nationwide soymilk plants in Taiwan, started production. By 1981 they were producing 52,000,000 packs of soymilk a year (200,000 a day) in various flavors including eggs, milk, peanut, and strawberry; they were the largest producer. Other large soymilk makers were Tsin Tsin (1978) and Wei Chuan (1980; 13,000,000 packs a year in egg and peanut flavors). In addition, many people still go to their local tofu shop in the morning and fill up a large jug with hot soymilk for home use.

 

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