History of Soymilk and Other Non-Dairy Milks (1226-2013)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-928914-58-7

Publication Date: 2013 Aug. 29

Number of References in Bibliography: 8761

Earliest Reference: 1226 CE

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      Scope for Soymilk: This book focuses on the use of soymilk as a beverage. Soymilk has long been the most widely consumed non-dairy milk worldwide. Soymilk also appears as a step in the process for making tofu, yuba, soy yogurt, soy ice cream, soy cheese, fermented soymilk (incl. soy acidophilus milk), etc. Each of these soy products is or will be the subject of a separate book.

      Amazaké, a thick fermented non-dairy rice beverage from Japan, usually served hot, topped with a dab of grated gingerroot, is also the subject of a separate book.
      Use in East Asia: Only in China has soymilk (doujiang) long been used as a beverage. Traditionally it was been served hot, ladled from a caldron for breakfast, at the place where it was made either sweetened or as the base of a salted soup served with deep-fried crullers. It was not used to feed infants or as an infant formula.
      Starting in the 1920s, a small number of companies in China started to make and sell bottled soymilk.
      In Hong Kong, Vitasoy was launched in 1940 by K.S. Lo as a nutritious food for refugees fleeing during World War II. By 1968 it had captured 25% of the Hong Kong soft drink market, second only to Coca-Cola.
      In Japan, bottled soymilk arrived in about 1957. The first soymilk boom started in about 1980; the many brands of soymilk were all sold in 180 ml aseptic cartons.
      In the United States and Europe, soymilk started to become popular in the 1980s. The first two brands sold nationwide were Vitasoy and Edensoy, both aseptically packaged so they did not need refrigeration. The first superstar of soymilks, Silk, was launched by White Wave of Boulder, Colorado, in early 1996. It was sold in the dairy case in gable-top cartons that looked like typical milk cartons.
      The first widely popular rice milk was Rice Dream, launched in June 1990 by Imagine Foods of Palo Alto, California.
Brief chronology of soymilk and other non-dairy products.
1226Kitab al-tabik [A Baghdad Cookery Book], by al-Baghdadi et al. is the earliest document seen that mentions a non-dairy milk – almond milk.
1365?Yiya Yiyi [Remnant Notions from I Ya], by Han Yi is the earliest document seen that mentions soymilk, which it calls doufujiang.
1390 – “Almond milk” is first mentioned in English in The Forme of Cury. It came to be widely used in Europe during Lent – the first popular non-dairy milk in the Western world.
1640 ca. – Soymilk is probably in use in China by the beginning of the Qing dynasty (H.T. Huang 2006).
1704 – Soymilk is first mentioned in English by Domingo Fernandez Navarrete in his book A Collection of Voyages and Travels. Navarrete served as a Dominican missionary in China.
1790? – An undated painting of hawkers selling soymilk (doujiang) in China, by Yao Wenhan, is from the Qing dynasty.
1790 – Soymilk is mentioned by Juan de Loureiro in his book The Flora of Cochin China. Loureiro was a Portuguese Jesuit missionary who lived in what is now Vietnam. He notes that soymilk is part of the process for making tofu.
1866 – Soymilk is first discussed as a drink in its own right by the Frenchman Paul Champion, who traveled in China. In a French-language article he stated that the Chinese had taken their cups to tofu shops to get hot soymilk, which they drank for breakfast.
1896 June – Soymilk is first referred to in the United States by Henry Trimble in the American Journal of Pharmacy.
1897 July 7 – The term “soy-bean milk” (or any cognate / relative thereof) first appears in a USDA or U.S. government publication: C.F. Langworthy. 1897. “Soy beans as food for man.” USDA Farmers’ Bulletin No. 58. p. 20-23. July 7. The table, titled "Comparison of the composition of soy-bean milk and cows' milk," gives the nutritional composition of the two liquids. The same term next appeared in Dec. 1916 in a USDA Bulletin by Piper & Morse, and then on 7 Feb. 1917 in a USDA Weekly News Letter.
1897 Nov. 16 – Peanut cream and peanut butter are now being made in Kokomo, Indiana by Lane Bros. (Kokomo Daily Tribune, p. 4). This is the earliest document seen that contains the term “peanut cream.”
1899 – Almeda Lambert of Battle Creek, Michigan, in her book Guide for Nut Cookery, describes how to make “peanut butter,… peanut cream, peanut milk, raw peanut milk and cream, almond milk, hickory milk, pine-nut milk, chufas milk and cocoanut milk” at home. This is the earliest document seen that contains the term “peanut milk” or the term “cocoanut milk.”
1906 April – Kayatama, in Japan, reports that he has made “A condensed vegetable milk” from soy-beans.
1909 – The first soy-based infant formulas and soymilk made from full-fat soy flour are developed in the United States by John Ruhräh, a pediatrician. He reports his results in the Archives of Pediatrics (July 1909).
1910 – The world's first soy dairy, named Caséo-Sojaïne, is founded by Li Yu-ying, a Chinese citizen, biologist and engineer, at 46-48 Rue Denis Papin, Les Vallées, Colombes (near Asnières), a few miles northwest of Paris. In December 1910 he applies for the world's first soymilk patents (British Patents No. 30,275 and 30,351). The first patent is titled "Vegetable milk and its derivatives." He is issued both patents in Feb. 1912.
1913 June 13 – Li Yu-ying is issued the first U.S. soymilk patent (No. 1,064,841), titled "Method of manufacturing products from soja." He filed the application on 10 Oct. 1911.
1914 – Maria M. Gilbert, in her book Meatless Cookery, gives a recipe for “Rice milk.” – the earliest know use of this term.
1917 – Soymilk is being produced commercially in the U.S. by J.A. Chard Soy Products in New York City.
1921 Sept. 23 – Vita Rice Products plans to build a factory to make “rice milk products,” including Vita Rice Milk, in San Francisco (San Francisco Business, p. 20).
1921 – Leon Rouest of France gives the first detailed discussion (in French) of calf-milk replacers based on soymilk.
1929 Nov. – T.A. Van Gundy, founder of La Sierra Industries in Arlington, California, launches La Sierra Soy Milk, and becomes the first Seventh-day Adventist worldwide to make soymilk commercially. The product was canned and the beany flavor removed by live steam processing.
1929 Dec. – Bottled soy bean milk is now widely made and sold in China. “One large factory in Peking now makes and distributes over a thousand bottles of [soy] milk daily; in Shanghai two factories each meet an even greater daily demand. The industry is bound to grow rapidly to greater dimensions” (Adolph and Wang 1929).
1931 – Madison Foods of Madison, Tennessee, introduces Madison Soy Milk – the world's earliest known soymilk to be fortified with calcium and the second commercial soymilk product made by Seventh-day Adventists in the USA. Madison Foods is a company run by students and faculty within Madison College, a pioneering work/study school.
1936 Jan. – Dr. Harry W. Miller and his son, Willis, start making Vetose Soya Milk, sold in natural or chocolate flavors in sterilized half pint or quart bottles at their Vetose Nutritional Laboratories in Shanghai, China. Dr. Miller is a Seventh-day Adventist physician, a student of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, and a medical missionary living in China. The world's first "soy dairy," this company also made soy ice cream and Acidophilus Vetose (a cultured soya milk) – both launched in Jan. 1936. But Japan was invading China. Within months after the soy-milk business began booming, a Japanese bomb blew up the soy dairy.
1936 April – The earliest known English-language document to contain the modern word “soymilk” is: Miller, Harry W.; Wen, C. Jean. 1936. “Experimental nutrition studies of soymilk in human nutrition.” Chinese Medical Journal 50(4):450-59. April.
1936 June – Sobee, the world's earliest known branded soy-based infant formula, is launched by the American Soya Products Corp. of Evansville, Indiana.
1939 autumn – Dr. Harry W. Miller, forced by the war in China to return to the USA, starts making soymilk at Mt. Vernon, Ohio, in a large brick plant which he and coworkers built from the ground up. The first two products are canned liquid soymilk (made in a pressure cooker and fortified with vitamins and minerals) and malted soymilk (Soy-A-Malt). Pressure from the powerful U.S. dairy industry and the USDA convinced Miller not to call his product 'soymilk,' so he latinized the name to Soya Lac. This term was first used in late 1939 for Miller's first American soymilk.
1940 March - K.S. Lo, founder and managing director of the Hong Kong Soya Bean Products Co. Ltd. starts to make soymilk in Hong Kong. His product, originally named Vita Milk (Wai-ta-nai in Chinese) was fortified with calcium, cod-liver oil, and vitamins, and sold in milk bottles, primarily as a nutritious, affordable beverage for refugees. In June 1940 the product was renamed Sunspot, and in 1953 it was renamed Vitasoy.
1949 – Bob Rich first learned about soymilk in 1943 from employees of Henry Ford, who were making soymilk at the Carver Laboratory in Dearborn, Michigan, for use in the Ford Hospital. In April 1945 Rich Products Corp. launched Whip Topping – a non-dairy product. The first lawsuit against Whip Topping (1949) charges that this is an imitation dairy product – and thus illegal. Bob Rich and Rich Products (Buffalo, New York) mount an aggressive defense, contending that their product is not an imitation (which implies inferiority to the real product) but a replacement. By 1974 Rich Products (which now also made non-dairy Coffee Rich) had won 40 cases. That year the Kansas Supreme Court declared Coffee Rich "a new and distinct food" and the dairy lobby gave up. Were it not for Bob Rich and his lead attorney, Ellis Arnall (former attorney general and governor of Georgia, 1943-47), non-dairy products might still be illegal in the USA!
1950s – Soymilk enters the modern era as it begins to be marketed in bottles like soft drinks, largely due to work by K.S. Lo of Vitasoy in Hong Kong and Yeo Hiap Seng in Singapore.
1956 Dec. – The Plantmilk Society has its first annual general meeting in London. Mr. C.A. Ling is in the chair. This report in The Vegan is the earliest English-language document seen that uses the word “plantmilk” to refer to soymilk and other non-dairy milks – a nice short word.
1957 – Japan's first commercial soymilk, sold in bottles, named Tônyu, is introduced by the Ueda Tofu Shop in Hachioji, Tokyo. Dr. Harry Miller was the inspiration for and helped to establish the shop.
1960s – In Japan, soymilk slowly increases in popularity. New manufacturers are: Nihon Tanpaku Kogyo (1962). College Health Foods (later renamed San-iku Foods) in Chiba prefecture with its Soyalac (1969, also inspired and aided by Dr. Harry Miller). Luppy Tanpaku (House Shokuhin) in Saitama prefecture with its Luppy soymilk (1969).
1965 – ProSobee, the world's earliest known non-dairy infant formula based on soy protein isolates, is launched by Mead Johnson & Co. of Evansville, Indiana.
1966 - The enzyme lipoxygenase is discovered by scientists at Cornell University [Ithaca, New York] to be responsible for the "beany" flavor in soymilk. They develop a process which can be used to help eliminate this “beany” flavor.
1967 – Soymilk begins to be packaged aseptically in Tetra Pak cartons. This allows it to be sold without refrigeration for six months or more. The first such product was Beanvit, made by Yeo Hiap Seng Ltd. in Singapore and packaged in a disposable tetrahedron-shaped container.
1970s and 1980s – Soymilk becomes a popular beverage throughout Asia, spreading to Europe, Australia and the United States.
1979 – Hong Kong Soya Bean Products Co. Ltd. starts to export Vitasoy, packed in Tetra Brik cartons, to selected countries throughout the world. By the early 1980s exports were going to over 20 countries, both developed and developing. Exports to the USA began in 1980.
1980 Jan. - DE-VAU-GE Gesundkostwerk, a Seventh-day Adventist food company near Hamburg, Germany, launches GranoVita Soja Drink in 500 ml Tetra Brik cartons; this soymilk product is made by N.V. Vandemoortele (one of Europe's largest oilseed crushers, founded in 1934) in Izegem, Belgium.
1980 June – N.V. Alpro is founded by Vandemoortele to take over production of this soymilk. Inspired and headed by Philippe Vandemoortele, Alpro purchased the land on which it was located from Vandemoortele, and became an independent manufacturer. Alpro quickly became Europe's leading producer of soymilk, making private-label brands for scores of companies.
1983 July – Edensoy brand soymilk is launched by Eden Foods of Clinton, Michigan. Imported from Japan (where it is made by Marusan-Ai Co.), it is sold in plain and carob flavors in stand-up foil retort pouches.
1984 Feb. – The first comprehensive study of the soymilk market in the U.S. is published by Soyfoods Center of Lafayette, California. It estimates that total soymilk consumption in the U.S. in 1983 (not including soy-based infant formulas) was 2.68 million gallons (26% of this was imported), and total production of soy-based infant formulas was 32 million gallons.
1984 March – Vitasoy (USA) introduces the first soymilk whose flavor is described as “Original” – meaning dairylike or resembling (as much as possible) dairy milk.
1984 Aug. – Westsoy Natural brand soymilk is launched by Westbrae Natural Foods of Emeryville, California. Imported from Japan (where it is made by San-Iku Foods), it is sold in one flavor in stand-up foil retort pouches.
1984 Oct. – Westbrae Natural Malted's, a thick soymilk resembling a milk shake, are launched in many flavors by Westbrae Natural Foods, imported from Japan.
1986 Nov. – Edensoy starts to be made in America by American Soy Products (ASP) at a large, modern plant in Saline, Michigan, and sold in Tetra Brik aseptic cartons. ASP is a joint venture of 4 Japanese companies and Eden Foods.
1986 – Raj Gupta (of ProSoya Foods International, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) applies for two patents on the oxygen-free, cold-grind process and equipment that he has invented. The first U.S. patent is issued on 17 May 1988. This process soon becomes widely used to make good-tasting soymilk. ProSoya becomes a major manufacturer of systems used to make soymilk worldwide.
1988 Nov. – Pacific Foods of Oregon launches its first soymilk product, Naturally Northwest Soy Beverage [Plain], in a 1-quart Tetra Brik Aseptic carton. The company's new factory is in Tualatin, Oregon.
1990 April – WestSoy Lite, America's first "lite" soymilk, with a low fat content, is introduced in plain, vanilla, and cocoa flavors by Westbrae Natural Foods. Made by adding water to regular soymilk, the product is less expensive to make, but also contains less nutrients.
1990 June – Alpro opens a new soymilk plant at Wevelgem, Belgium. Costing about US$15 million and having a capacity of 45 million liters a year, it is reputed to be the largest in the world. Alpro now makes about 70% of the soymilk in Europe.
1990 June – Rice Dream, a non-dairy beverage, is launched in a Tetra Pak aseptic carton by Imagine Foods of Palo Alto, California. It is made by California Natural Products of Manteca, California, using an innovative patented process, in which the ground rice is digested by enzymes. Many prefer its flavor to that of soymilk.
1990 Sept. 24 – The company name is changed to Vitasoy International Holdings Ltd. from Hong Kong Soya Bean Products Co. Ltd.
1991 – There are at least 35 processors or marketers of soymilk in the U.S., increasing production to approximately 9.8 million gallons. Consumption is estimated to be growing at between 15 and 20% per year since 1984.
1993 – More than 200 scientific journal articles about soymilk have been published in English, and at least 80 English-language patents on soymilk have been issued between 1912 and 1993.
1994 Jan. – Soy-Um, a low-priced and attractively packaged soymilk, is launched by J&G Inc., a product developer and distributor in Chicago, Illinois. The product is made in Oregon by Pacific Foods. It soon becomes widely sold at Trader Joe’s food stores.
1995 – A market study is published, estimating that $108 million of soymilk was sold in the U.S. in 1994. This equates to approximately 13.5 million gallons of soymilk. By 1995 sales are projected to have risen to over $130 million, or approximately 16.3 million gallons.
1996 Jan. – Silk – soymilk sold refrigerated in quart or half-gallon ESL (Extended Shelf Life) gable-top cartons – is introduced by White Wave, Inc. of Boulder, Colorado. It is the first U.S. soymilk to be sold refrigerated in the dairy case in a carton that looks like a typical milk carton, but that has a longer shelf life. It soon becomes the superstar of American soymilks.
1999 Aug. 18 – White Wave and Dean Foods Co. (Franklin Park, Illinois; a leading dairy milk company) announce a new alliance, in which Dean Foods acquires a minority stake in White Wave in exchange for money to market Silk soymilk. Silk is now in 6,000 supermarkets and chain stores – not counting natural foods chains like Whole Foods market. In 1999 sales of refrigerated Silk increased 600 percent!
1999 Oct. 26 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes a health claim stating that consumption of 6.25 grams of soy protein per serving, as a part of a healthy diet, low in saturated fats and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels. This claim soon appears on the front of many products that meet these requirements. It leads to the creation of many new soy products (including soymilks) and generates major public interest.
2002 May 8 – Dean Foods, Inc. (Dallas, Texas), one of America’s largest dairy milk companies, acquires the remaining 64% of shares of White Wave, Inc. of Boulder, Colorado for $189 million. But the total value Dean Foods pays for White Wave is $295 million – largely to win the morale of the management and to give them an incentive to stay for at least 2 more years.
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