History of Soymilk and Dairy-like Soymilk Products - Page 4

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A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and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 Soyinfo Center, Lafayette, California

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The first known mention of soymilk in Latin America was in Ecuador during the 1940s, when posters proclaiming the value of soymilk and other soyfoods were printed by the government. In 1951 Ciancos in Paraguay discussed soymilk at length in his 505-page book on soy. Detailed information on soymilk production methods and equipment was first introduced to Latin America by Dr. harry Miller in the form of several publications on the subject during the 1950s and 1960s (Moretti 1981; see also Chapter 36.5). These works inspired the first soymilk production in Brazil and Mexico in about 1967, which was when interest began to grow throughout Latin America.

By the early 1970s Latin American countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Paraguay, and Colombia had become major producers of soybeans, yet only a very small proportion of these (less than 3%) was used as human food and a large proportion was grown on land that had formerly grown beans widely eaten by the people. Watching the growing success of soymilk in less developed countries of Asia, multinational corporations America.

Brazil. The first known appearance of soymilk in Brazil was in 1967, when Dr. Barretto of Laticinos Mococa introduced Solein, a mixture of 30% soymilk and 70% cow's milk. Made by a cold-grind process, which gave a beany flavor, it was sold mainly in pharmacies in powdered and canned form in 1981. In 1966, partly because of the success of Vitasoy in Hong Kong, The Coca-Cola Co. initiated a project to develop a protein beverage. In 1968 they introduced a soymilk soft drink called Saci (pronounced sa-SEE) to Brazil. Sold in liquid form in chocolate and caramel flavors, sterilized in 200-ml bottles, Saci was developed to satisfy a United Nations inquiry. During test marketing, Saci was distributed together with Coca-Cola's soft drinks and from 1968-1970 reached 8% of total market sales. Saci composition was 3% protein, 1.7% fat, and 15% added sucrose. Vitamins A, D, B-1, B-2, B-6, and B-12 were added to satisfy 25% of the MDR from a 200-ml bottle. This initial Saci project was stopped in 1976, in part because the company developed another nutritive beverage which could be processed using the same Coca-Cola bottling plants and equipment, and in part because the beverage was not reaching the target population, children, because of its relatively high price. In 1978 The Coca-Cola Co. introduced New Saci Enriched Milkshake Powder. Fortified with vitamins and minerals, it contained 4.5% protein from soy protein isolate and nonfat dried milk, plus enough white sugar to provide up to 120 calories per 200 ml serving and a colloidal thickener to give the reconstituted product a milkshake consistency. It was sold in sacks to the Brazilian government for distribution to institutions, primarily the School Feeding Program. By 1980 coconut, vanilla, and coffee flavors had been introduced. Acceptance by adult Brazilians was not too encouraging, probably because they don't drink milk. In 1981 The Coca-Cola Co. and the Brazilian government were discussing exporting this product to Japan to make use of domestic agricultural products (Brazil is the world's number 1 producer of sugar and number 2 of soybeans) to generate badly needed foreign exchange, and Coca-Cola was planning to retail Saci in Brazil at about 25% less than milk. Then in late 1981, unexpectedly, the Brazilian government dumped surplus subsidized milk on the school feeding program, severely hurting Coca-Cola and other private companies. Also local Brazilian companies finally muscled Coca-Cola (a foreign multinational0 out of the market. This turned Saci into a financial disaster. So Coke abandoned the school feeding market, decided to offer their isolate and flavoring technology to any Brazilian companies that want to license it, and plans to try a mass-market retail soymilk joint venture after inflation gets under control.

In 1975 Olvebra Co. began producing a soymilk developed at ITT in Colombia by Dr. Diaz Delgado; Olvebra used the Coca-Cola pilot plant. In 1981 they sold the milk powdered in cans under two brands: Novo Milk (sweetened with orange, chocolate, banana, or strawberry flavors) and Novo Vita (used mainly in the school lunch program).

Also in 1975 Brazil's Institute of Food Technology (ITAL) developed a soymilk brand-named Vital, which was sold in Tetra Pak in vanilla and chocolate flavors. By 1927 it was also sold pasteurized in polyethylene bags and in powdered form.

In 1977 R.H. Moretti introduced a new concept in soymilk processing to Brazil. Called the "Mechanical Cow," it is a mini soymilk plant that can produce up to 200 liters per hour of sterilized soymilk at the market spot, as in schools, hospitals, etc. By March 1981 there were 90 Mechanical Cows in Brazil, and they were starting to be exported. In 1979 Dr. Moretti, a technical wizard and college professor of food technology, won first prize for his machine among 200 patented inventions in Brazil. Users of the Mechanical Cow now make soymilk in caramel, passion fruit, pineapple, banana, guava, chocolate, and coffee flavors. The basic machine (which sold for $15,000 in 1981) can also be purchased with an okara dryer ($12,000), and the okara can be used in breads, tortillas, etc. Using water and electricity (no steam generator is required), the machine can make soymilk for about $0.10 per liter, packaged in 1 liter poly bags, which keep 3 days at room temperature or 15 days refrigerated. For all its virtues, this concept would seem to have great potential for decentralized soymilk production, especially in Third World countries. In Brazil some hospitals are using the Mechanical Cow to mix 30% soymilk with cow's milk, a practice which the government is thinking of adopting widely to reduce milk prices (Food Engineering 1981; Moretti 1981; Leviton 1981). By 1981 soymilk was being used in at least six commercial foods in Brazil.

Mexico. The first soymilk plant in Mexico was Alimentos Colpac, started in 1968 by Seventh-day Adventists in Sonora, Navojoa. Named Alimentos Colpac, its founder was Paul Allred, who also pioneered a similar plant in Egypt. By 1981 there were five soymilk manufacturers in Mexico. A review of the problems (largely from the government and the milk industry) encountered in trying to popularize soymilk in Latin America was given by Harrison (1981). A Mechanical Cow was also developed in Mexico by Ing. Manuel Rojo.

Central America. By the late 1970s the Seventh-day Adventist Pan American Health Service was making soymilk in Honduras. In 1980 PLENTY and the people of Solala in Guatemala started a small soy dairy there.

Spanish Speaking South America. In the early 1970s Provesol, one of the first soymilks in Latin America, was developed at ITT in Colombia by Delgado. In Peru, soymilk is reported to be made by an indigenous group in the Baba Hein area and served mixed with cow's milk and strawberries, and by 1981 a soymilk developed by private industry with help from INTSOY was widely available. In Guyana in 1968 Monsanto Co. and K.S. Lo of Hong Kong introduced Puma (see Chapter 45).

Africa. The earliest known introduction of soymilk to Africa was in the 1930s, when various Catholic missionary orders organized its production in the Belgian Congo (Yeu 1933). In 1977 Seventh-day Adventists built a food factory in Cairo and began to make and market soymilk there. In the mid 1960s Africa Basic Foods in Uganda began to make soymilk there. In about 1980 Alfa Laval, a large Swedish-based company making automated soymilk equipment, developed an attractive booklet about soymilk specifically for the African market. Their small scale machine produced 2,000 liters of soymilk a day. In 1981 The Coca-Cola Company was planning to export soy protein isolate from Brazil to Nigeria, where their bottler would produce an isolate soymilk. But the Nigerian government hit them with a heavy import tax, which stopped the project.


As of April 1982 The Soyinfo Center had a list of 102 large and medium scale soymilk manufacturers around the world; there were hundreds, perhaps thousands of additional small producers in East Asia. Interest in soymilk, as evidenced by increase in the amount consumed, the number of manufacturers, and the number of journal articles published and patents granted, is at an all-time high and rapidly increasing. The three key prerequisites for soymilk's increasing popularity are that it must sell for less than cow's milk, it must taste good, and it must be marketed effectively.

Geographically, the greatest immediate growth potential seems to lie in Third World countries, where sources of tasty, low-cost protein and energy are in greatest demand. There are huge potential markets in the urbanized areas of China, Africa, Latin America, and parts of Southeast Asia, where cow's milk is rarely consumed because of its prohibitive cost, its scarcity (as in the tsetse fly areas of Africa), problems with its contamination, and/or a traditional cultural avoidance of animal milks. Obstacles to increasing milk supplies are the low milk yield of indigenous cattle, the shortage of land to grow fodder or feeds, and the high incidence of diseased cattle (Swaminathan and Parpia 1967). Moreover soymilk shows new promise since soybeans are now being grown in large quantities in Third World countries for the first time. In terms of soymilk utilization in these areas, retail soft drinks will probably lead the way, with subsidized use in school and infant feeding programs running a close second. Bulk sales to the food industry (as for use in baked goods or in fast food establishments in place of milk) also hold great promise, with many opportunities for innovation as a dairy extender or analog. Using soymilk in Third World countries will decrease losses of precious foreign exchange by reducing imports of increasingly expensive nonfat dried milk, stimulate local soybean production which will create new jobs and income and increase food self sufficiency, allow for the implementation or expansion of feeding programs for nutritionally at-risk infants and school children, decrease costs and increase protein availability for the general population, aid in the potential establishment of new soy dairies and related jobs, prevent problems of lactose intolerance, and help combat chronic milk shortages. Three specific policy changes could greatly stimulate soymilk consumption in developing countries: (1) Relaxation of regulatory restrictions by governments or even adoption of a promotional stance; (2) Recognition by local milk industries (as is already the case in parts of East Asia) that soymilk need not be a competitor to cow's milk; it can be a lower priced complement or an extender which lowers prices; and (3) Aid in establishing local soymilk production by international organizations.

One promising example of the latter concept is COMSOY (Committee for the Promotion of Soymilk Manufacturing in Low Income Countries), established by the Belgium-based International Investment and Development Corporation (IIDC) under the leadership of Dr. F. de Selliers de Moranville. COMSOY, composed of top scientists, administrators, and others actively interested in soymilk, is now involved in raising funds from major international finance organizations (The World Bank, IITA, FAO, UNICEF, WHO, The OPEC Fund, AIS, FAS, and various large foundations) to establish a three-stage program; an international feasibility study would be followed by soymilk pilot plant projects in selected countries, and then expanded into full-scale production in the 60 poorest countries having less than $1,000 per capita income. The soymilk would be produced on various scales by private enterprise. Local governments would initially be the basic buyer, but with subsidies from international organizations, and the soymilk would be used for feeding infants and primary school children. To feed the estimated 81.7 million such infants and children in the 61 countries would require 21.8 liters per child per year (250 ml x 195 days). This would require a $l billion capital cost plus $800 million a year to produce the soymilk, or about the cost of a modern weapons carrier.

Soymilk will probably take longer to catch on in the West. The main obstacles to its wider use to date are (1) Cow's milk, widely available at low prices, is a traditional popular food and has a good image nutritionally; (2) No good-flavored soymilks have yet been produced in the West; (3) All soymilks to date in the West are more expensive than cow's milk; (4) Government laws and regulations prevent use of the word "soymilk" and prohibit the production of soy-dairy blends such as fresh milks, yogurts, ice creams, etc. which might contain 10-50% soymilk; and (5) The dairy industry tends to see soymilk as a threat rather than as an opportunity to boost sagging milk scales. The same stance adopted against margarine is now being adopted against soymilk.

The greatest opportunity for soymilk growth in the West is clearly in the area of dairy extenders, hybrids, and analogs, with extenders being the easiest path to acceptance, but the hardest legislatively. The easiest markets to reach are the food industry (fast food chains and users of nonfat dry milk, in bulk), and the natural and health food industries, in retail packs. A major effort might be made to reach babies, since those raised on soymilk formulas have a strong dislike for the flavor of animal milks. There will also probably be a growing market for soymilk used as a calf milk replacer.

The two basic types of nondairy milks now sold in the US are filled milks (in which milk fat/butterfat is replaced by vegetable fats) and simulated milks (made from typically sodium caseinate or soy protein isolates, corn syrup or lactose, emulsifiers, stabilizers, vitamins, etc.). Both products sell for less than fluid dairy milk, which is the main reason they are purchased. As imported dairy-derived sodium caseinate inevitably rises in price relative to soy protein, the latter will almost surely replace it, not only in milks but in other dairy analogs as well. According to a Stanford Research Institute (SRI) report for 1974 a number of dairy analogs had a high growth potential despite their 1972 market share: imitation milks (0.2%, very high), imitation sour cream (0.6%, very high), imitation ice cream (mellorine; 3.9%, high), cheese analogs (0, high), cream substitutes (42.4%, moderate), and whipped toppings (77.3%, moderate).


For a brief history of fermented soymilk products, including acidophilus soymilk, soymilk yogurt, and fermented or ripened soymilk cheeses, please see Chapter 21.

Soymilk Ice Cream . A brief review of the history of ice cream shows that the first milk-based ice cream probably originated in Italy in the early 1600s, using the ice from the hills for freezing. homemade ice cream came to America with the early colonists. The first commercial (wholesale) ice cream in America was produced in 1851 in Baltimore, Maryland. The ice cream soda was introduced in 1879; the ice cream cone in 1904; and the Eskimo Pie in 1921. US per capita consumption of ice cream reached l quart in 1909, 10 quarts in 1940, then 20 quarts in 1946, and was about 24 quarts in 1970, when there were approximately 11,000 manufacturers (Arbuckle 1977).

The earliest known reference to soymilk ice cream appeared in 1918, when Itano (a Japanese!) simply listed it as one of the products that could be made from soymilk. In 1922 Thuey was granted the first patent on soymilk ice cream (US Patent 1,437,162); he first made the soymilk into tofu. In 1934 Henry Ford served soymilk ice cream at a press luncheon at the Chicago World's Fair. In 1936 Dr. Harry Miller made the world's first commercial ice cream in (of all places) Shanghai; it was sold only to institutions. He later made ice cream in Ohio in the early 1940s and in Tokyo at an Adventist hospital in 1958. In 1936 Dorothea Van Gundy published the first recipes from homemade soymilk ice cream in La Sierra Recipes ; flavors included vanilla, avocado-orange, and almond, plus strawberry and raspberry sherbets. The recipes contained both Soy Cream and soymilk. Subsequent recipes for homemade soymilk ice cream were given by Kloss (1939), Williams-Heller and McCarthy (1944), Lager (1945), Hurd (1968), and The Farm (1974, l975). In 1937 an article in the October 13 issue of the Chicago Journal of Commerce announced that Madison College in Tennessee was making soymilk ice cream and buttermilk under the direction of E.M. Bisalski and Dr. Philip Chen. In the early 1940s "soy sherbet" was served at a soy banquet at Iowa State University sponsored by the American Soybean Association. In 1947 a full-page photograph appeared in a national magazine (title unknown) showing William Morse eating a dish of soymilk ice cream, which was said to have been made (apparently at home) from powdered soymilk. During the 1940s Kellogg's Double Good Ice Cream appeared; it is not known who made this soymilk ice cream or when.

Soymilk ice cream first began to be widely popular in 1976, when The Farm Food Company in San Rafael (California) and Snow Flower Frozen Desserts in Tivoli (New York) each introduced their own brands. The Farm had first started to make soymilk ice cream during the summer of 1972 or 1973, using homemade soymilk, a hand-crank machine, and fresh blackberries. Needless to say, it was a hit. They then bought four tiny table-top ice cream machines for $100 and started to make more. After 1976 they started to sell their ice cream, making it in San Rafael in a batch Emery Thompson ice cream machine; most was sold as cones over the counter or in pints in the freezer, but a little was distributed locally. Strawberry was the favorite flavor and the product was called Ice Bean (later Soy Ice Bean). In 1978 Farm Foods moved to King St. in San Francisco, bought a bigger ice cream machine, and in July started production again. By 1979 this Soy Ice Bean was available in six flavors (vanilla, carob, strawberry, orange, banana, and chocolate) and being widely advertised. Output had passed 500 gallons a week, with distribution mostly in California. In 1980 The Farm helped start soymilk ice cream production at the Solala Soy Dairy in Guatemala; again, it was a great hit, the perfect way to introduce soyfoods to a new culture. By 1980 Farm Foods had moved operations from San Francisco back to headquarters in Tennessee. They formulated a new product which they had manufactured by a dairy ice cream plant; this was advertised nationwide in many full color ads in magazines, and carried by 17 distributors. It was not known who made their soymilk.

In the mid 1970s the University of Illinois developed an excellent, rich ice cream using their suspended soymilk; unfortunately, it was not commercialized.

By 1981 many of America's emerging soyfoods companies were making soymilk ice cream or having it made for them: Island Spring (Soy Freeze), Living Lightly (Jolly Licks), Quong Hop (Soy Dream), Garden of Eatin' (Ice Dream), White Wave (Polar Bean), Joy of Soy (Soy Dream), etc. Leviton (1981) did a comprehensive and humorous study of the industry, which was also published in Vegetarian Times .

Soymilk ice cream may have a bright future in America. But first it needs a generic name; both the terms "soymilk" and "ice cream": cannot legally be applied to it. Mellorine, an ice-cream-like product in which the natural butterfats are replaced by vegetable fats, accounts for about 4.7% of total frozen dairy dessert sales and is banned in 24 states. Does a similar fate await soymilk ice cream? Or will it become a stylish chick new fad, free of cholesterol. A New Jersey entrepreneur with $ million is said to be ready to start production and marketing in a big way.

Soymilk Cream and Whipped Cream . In about 1932 the remarkable California soyfoods pioneer T.A. Van Gundy began to make rich soy cream and whipped cream for use by his family. He mixed equal parts soymilk and soy oil with some vanilla, sugar, and a pinch of salt, ran it through a homogenizer at his soy plant, and served it at home; it was never commercialized. Sometimes it was diluted with water and used like cream with cereals or hot beverages, as described by Dorothea Van Gundy in La Sierra Recipes (1936). In 1939 Jethro Kloss published his own recipe for soymilk whipped cream in Garden of Eden. In 1945 a soymilk whipped cream brand-named Delsoy was being produced by Herbert Taylor of Delsoy Products in New York City (Soybean Digest 1945). Home scale recipes were published by The Farm (1975) and Shurtleff and Aoyagi (1975).

Soymilk Custards and Puddings . The first recipe was given by Dittes in 1935. Other early recipes were given by Williams-Heller and McCarthy (1944), Lager (1945), and Jones (1963).

Soymilk Mayonnaise . The earliest known mention of and recipe for soymilk mayonnaise appeared in Dorothea Van Gundy's La Sierra Recipes in 1936. Other homemade recipes were given by Kloss (1939) and Hurd (1968). The idea was popularized by The Farm starting in 1974; an original recipe for Soy Mayonnaise" appeared in their booklet Yay Soybeans that year, then in the Farm Vegetarian Cookbook of 1975. In 1976 the Farm Food Co. in San Rafael produced America's first known commercial soymilk mayonnaise, brand-named Soyanaise. In 1978 began to produce Soy Mayo on a small scale; they spent 18 months and $35,000 trying to develop it into a viable commercial product. Although the acceptance was excellent, it was too expensive due to the low volume and semi-manual production, so they had to discontinue it in 1980. In 1978 T. Eida and co-workers at Meiji Seika in Japan developed a soy-based mayonnaise using both soymilk and a soy protein isolate treated with proteolytic enzymes. See also Tofu mayonnaise, which we feel is a superior product since it requires the use of much less oil in the formulation.

Soymilk Shakes . The earliest known recipe appeared in 1944 in Soybeans from Soup to Nuts by Williams-Heller and McCarthy. Made with a banana, honey, and lemon juice or vanilla, it used no ice cream. Other early recipes, also without ice cream, were given by Lager (1945; just soymilk plus molasses) and Dorothea Jones (1963; using soy malt powder, cracked ice, and banana). The first recipe made with soymilk ice cream was in the Hurds' Ten Talents in 1968. In 1977 Swan Foods in Miami, Florida, produced the first known commercial soymilk shakes in carob and vanilla flavors. These were widely distributed. In 1979 The Tofu Shop, a soy dairy in Rochester, New York, made the first restaurant soymilk shakes in banana-vanilla and banana-carob flavors; use of frozen bananas obviated the use of ice cream and yielded a delicious, thick shake.

Soy Nog . The first recipe was given by Williams-Heller and McCarthy in 1944. Jones (1963) also gave an early recipe.

Nonfermented soymilk cheeses . The first imitation cheese in America, a mock Mozzarella, was introduced by Anderson Clayton & Co. in 1973 (Buss 1981). They had started development of engineered Cheeses at their R & D center in 1969. Like most imitations, their first product was based on casein, one of the proteins found in milk; it contained no soy. In 1973 and 1974 Lundstedt and Lo were granted the first patents on nonfermented soymilk cheeses; they found that the addition of milkfat (butterfat) to hot-pack tofu gave the best product. In 1976 Fuji Oil Co. was granted a patent on a nonfermented engineered soy-based cheese made with soy protein isolate and carrageenan; in 1978 they received a British patent (No. 1,518,952) on a cheese made with both soy and milk proteins. By the late 1970s the cheese industry had pretty much decided that nonfermented imitation cheese processes were much more promising than fermented. Moreover, they wanted to develop soy-based cheeses to reduce reliance on imports of casein from Australia and New Zealand. In the early 1980s exciting work with soy-dairy cheese blends was being done by Lusas and co-workers at Texas A & M. The development by Ralston Purina and others of bland soy protein isolates holds great promise for soy based cheeses (see also Chapter 25).


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