History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (1647-2015)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-928914-79-2

Publication Date: 2015 Aug. 12

Number of References in Bibliography: 2283

Earliest Reference: 1647

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Brief chronology/timeline of soy in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg
These three nations are often grouped together as the Benelux countries – after their economic union established in 1944. The Netherlands and Belgium are sometimes grouped together as the “low countries” because of their low elevation above (or below) sea level.
During the 1600s the Dutch Republic rose to naval and economic prominence in Europe. Starting in 1641, the Dutch were the only Europeans allowed to trade with Japan; the Dutch merchants convinced the Japanese that they were interested only in trade, not in making religious converts. For centuries this special relationship worked very well to mutual advantage, and it is still prized by both Japan and the Netherlands.
      A very different type of relationship arose between the Dutch East Indies (today’s Indonesia) and the Netherlands, which was a colonial master from the early 1600s until about 1945 (when Indonesia declared independence) or Dec. 1950 (when the Dutch granted independence after a bloody 5-year war).
      The Indonesian population, which has increased steadily in the Netherlands, has played the leading role in introducing soyfoods to that country’s cuisine.
1647 Oct. 16 – Japanese soy sauce is now being exported from Nagasaki, Japan, by merchants of the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Ost-Indische Compagnie; VOC). In the earliest known handwritten letter it is called Soije, based on the Japanese word shoyu, meaning soy sauce. The words “soy,” “soya” and “soja,” and the term “soy sauce” came into English from the Japanese word shoyu via the Dutch. Thus, the name of the soybean was derived from the name of the sauce made from it.
      Other early letters from Dutch merchants that mention soy sauce are dated 30 June 1651 (sooje), 3 July 1652 (soij), 22 Oct. 1652 (Soije), 27 Oct. 1652 (Zoije), 18 July 1654 (soijo), 3 Aug. 1655 (Soija), 8 March 1656 (soieje), etc.
1652 Aug. 14 – Jacob Keijser, in a letter to the director of commerce at Deshima, a man-made island in Nagasaki Harbor, Japan, orders 4 kegs of miso (misio), as well as 80-90 kegs of good sake.
      This is the earliest Dutch-language document seen that mentions miso. Other early letters from Dutch merchants that mention miso are dated 18 July 1654 (miso), 3 Aug. 1655 (Miso), 3 Aug. 1657 (missouw), 30 July 1658 (missoe), etc.
1679 – John Locke, the famous philosopher, first mentions soy sauce in English in his journal. This shoyu (the Japanese word for soy sauce) was probably exported from Deshima, in Nagasaki harbor, by Dutch merchants. The context suggests that shoyu was widely available in London in 1679.
1712 – Englebert Kaempfer, a German who lived in Japan during 1691 and 1692 as a physician for the Dutch East India Company at Deshima (a man-made island in Nagasaki harbor), is the first European to give detailed descriptions of how miso and shoyu are made from soybeans in Japan – in his landmark Latin-language book Amoenitatum Exoticarum Politico-Physico-Medicarum [Exotic Novelties, Political, Physical, Medical, Vol. 5, p. 834-35]. He is also the first Westerner who mentions koji (which he calls koos), but he does not understand what it is, how it functions, or how it is made.
1724 June 2 – A small ad in ‘s Gravenhaegsd Courant (The Hague) shows that soy sauce is now in The Netherlands.
1737 – In Europe, soybeans are first cultivated at Clifford’s Garden (Hortus Cliffortianus) in Hartecamp, The Netherlands, as described that year by Carolus Linnaeus in Latin.
1737 – Records from Deshima, in Nagasaki Harbor in Japan, show that 35 kegs of shoyu were officially shipped this year to The Netherlands via Batavia (today’s Jakarta, Indonesia).
1747 – Herbarium Amboinense [The Flora of Amboina], by the Dutchman Georgius Everhardus Rumphius, Vol. 5, contains a description in Latin of the soybean (see p. 388-89). Amboina is a part of the Dutch East Indies (today’s Indonesia). Looking at Rumphius’ life, he probably saw soybeans by 1670 and definitely by 1696. This is the earliest document seen concerning soybean cultivation in today’s Indonesia. However it seems very likely that soybeans were cultivated in Indonesia long before they were seen by Rumphius. In fact, the Serat Sri Tanjung is said to contain a story from the 12th or 13th century, set in East Java, in which soybeans are mentioned.
1750 Dec. – Soy first arrives in North America (in what will soon become the United States) in the form of soy sauce, bearing the name “India Soy,” imported into the port of New York from London by Rochell & Sharp, shopkeepers on Wall Street (New York Gazette Revived... 1750 Dec. 17, p. 3). This soy sauce was probably Japanese shoyu, sold to Dutch merchants at Deshima. The Dutch then shipped it to Amsterdam, where it was sold to other merchants who took it to wherever they traded.
1856 – In the Netherlands, Siebold & Comp. in Leyden publishes the first seed catalog in the Western world which offers soybeans for sale (p. 18). The catalog is written entirely in French. Philipp Franz von Siebold, a German physician, botanist and traveler, lived in Japan from 1823 to 1829 – mainly at Deshima.
1879 April – Soybeans first appear in Belgium, sent by Messrs. Vilmorin and Andrieux, the seed company in Paris. Actually, as mentioned in this article, soybeans have been in Belgium several times before this date, but we do not know exactly when. Attempts were made to cultivate the seeds, but they did not reach full maturity (Bulletin de la Societe d'Horticulture et de Viticulture, p. 65-71).
1890 Jan. 30 – G.C. Koehler & Co. is now making and selling Sojabrood [Soya Bread] in Amsterdam. This is the earliest known commercial soy product made in the Netherlands.
1890 – Greshoff, in the Netherlands, is the first to state that nodules on the roots of soybeans create free nitrogen and assimilate it. He does not, however, discuss nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which are essential to this process.
1895 and 1896 – Two articles by the Dutchman H.C. Prinsen Geerligs (who lives in Java) usher in the era of scientific research on tempeh by European microbiologists and food scientists. The 1896 article (which is a German translation of his 1895 Dutch-language article) is the first to spell the word “tempeh” (with an “h” on the end). It is also the first to give the name of the tempeh mold as Rhizopus Oryzae.
      But other early Western authors, especially the Dutch, use the spelling témpé (Gericke and Rorda 1875; Heyne 1913) or tèmpé (Vorderman 1902; Stahel 1946).
1897 – Soybeans are first cultivated and come to full maturity in Belgium, as stated in an article which contains a translation from an article by M. Henri Fortune, the well-known French agriculturist (Stephen H. Angell. Consular Reports [USA], p. 551-52.
1900 – The Dutchman Dr. P.A. Boorsma, who lives in Java and did original laboratory tests, publishes the first detailed description (in Dutch) of the traditional Indonesian process for making Tempe kedeleh (soybean tempeh).
      His excellent 13-page review of the literature on soybeans and soyfoods, cites 12 key sources and gives details on Japanese soyfoods (shoyu, tofu, yuba, miso, natto) and other Indonesian soyfoods (soy sauce, regular and firm tofu, and taucho or miso).
      Boorsma is also the first to mentionfermented black soybeans in Dutch. In the Dutch East Indies (today’s Indonesia), they are called Tao-dji. However they gradually disappear from Indonesia.
1905Suriname (Formerly Surinam and Dutch Guiana): Soybeans are first cultivated (Kaltenbach & Legros 1936, p. 187T-89T).
1908 – The first trial shipment of soybeans from Asia to Europe is made in 1908 by Mitsui (a Japanese conglomerate), being sent from Dairen to Liverpool. This is the beginning of a new industry in England, Germany, Denmark and Holland. The major portion of the beans destined for Europe is for the mills at Liverpool and Hull, England; but a small amount goes to those at Copenhagen, Denmark, and Rotterdam and Amsterdam, Holland.
      In 1908, the year the import boom starts, the Netherlands imports 7,290 tonnes of soybeans (Li and Grandvoinnet 1912). Imports for 1911 to 1913 are 26,300, 42,900, and 27,400 tonnes, while the tonnage crushed those 3 years is l4,400, 26,500, and 13,600 tonnes (USTC 1920), which is about fourth in Europe. Imports continued in 1914 (19,600 tonnes) and 1915 (16,500 tonnes), then stopped during World War I.
1908Congo, Democratic Republic of (DRC, formerly Zaire, 1971-1991, and Belgian Congo, 1908-1960). Soybeans are first cultivated (Engelbeen 1948).
1913 – Indonesia: The Netherland Indies [Dutch-East Indies] is importing 2.0 million bushels a year of soybeans (Burtis 1950, p. 68). Note: 36.75 bushels = 1 metric ton.
1931Vegetables of the Dutch East Indies, by J.J. Ochse is published. Contains excellent information about soybeans and soyfoods in today’s Indonesia.
1934 – Vandemoortele N.V. (Izegem, Belgium), owned by Adhemar Vandemoortele, starts to import soybeans from Manchuria and crush them to make soy oil and soybean meal. Although the company was founded at Izegem in 1899, this is the first oil it has made for food use. Before this, the company crushed mainly linseed for industrial use.
1946 April – ENTI (Eerste Nederlandse Tempe Industrie) starts to make the earliest known tempeh in Holland (or in Europe). It is located near Zevenhuizen.
1950 – After the Netherlands granted Indonesia independence in Dec. 1950, some 200,000 Indonesians emigrated to the Netherlands, creating a large new market for tempeh, tofu, and other traditional Indonesian soyfoods. Research on tempeh was also stimulated.
1950 – Soybean imports to the Netherlands increase rapidly after World War II. By 1946 the country is importing 11,000 tonnes of soybeans; the figure rises to 53,000 tonnes in 1950 then to 220,000 tonnes in 1959, topping the prewar high of 130,000 tonnes in 1940. In 1959 the Netherlands is Europe's second largest soybean importer after Germany.
1958 – Vanka-Kawat makes the earliest known tofu in the Netherlands. They are located in Rijswijk.
1958 Jan. – Earliest known record of soybeans in Luxembourg.
1959 – Soyfoods are first made commercially in Belgium by Pierre Gevaert, founder of Lima Foods at Sint-Martens-Latem. His first two food products are Barley Miso and Tamari (actually shoyu).
1964 – Heuschen B.V. (later renamed Heuschen-Schrouff B.V.) starts making tofu at Geulle (Limburg), Netherlands. By the 1980s, they were the largest tofu maker in Europe.
1960-1982 – Soybean imports to the Netherlands continue to increase spectacularly during this period. Between 1960 and 1980, they rise from 330,000 to 3,500,000 tonnes (number 2 in Europe), while soybean exports reach 300,000 tonnes in 1980 (number 1 in Europe). Soy oil imports grow only slightly from 32,000 to 40,000 tonnes, while soy oil exports jump from 17,000 to 340,000 tonnes (number 2 in Europe). Soybean meal imports rise from 100,000 to 1,150,000 tonnes (number 3 in Europe).
      This rather small country of only 13.9 million people in 1980 consume a total of 241,000 tonnes of soy oil, or 17.3 kg per capita per year, the highest figure for any European country. The country's soybean crushing capacity, 3.0 million tonnes, is third in Europe after that of West Germany and France. Also by the 1970s the Netherlands is the world's sixth largest margarine producing country and has the fourth highest per capita margarine consumption in Europe, after Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.
1975 – Stichting Natuurvoeding Amsterdam. (Renamed Manna Natuurvoeding B.V. in 1982), a large natural foods distributor in Amsterdam, introduces its first commercial soy product, Manna Tamari (Sojasaus; actually shoyu), made by Muso in Japan and imported by Manna.
      Manna was also the first to introduce miso, tofu, tempeh and koji to the larger public, and was the leading promoter of soyfoods as part of a more natural and economic meatless diet. Manna also made tofu, tofu spreads, and tempeh.
      Sjon Welters, who started to work with Manna in Sept. 1975, did lifelong pioneering work with soyfoods, including giving classes on home-scale preparation of miso, tofu, tempeh, shoyu, tamari, koji, and natto at the East West Center, which also did much to teach others about soyfoods.
      Jakso, a macrobiotic community of 12 adults and 7 children on 30 ha of land (headed by Tomas Nelissen, who studied foods in Japan for 7 years) had a soyfoods plant on the land; in late 1982 they made about 315 kg of tempeh and 250 kg of tofu a week. Other small macrobiotic tofu shops included Witte Wonder and De Morgenstond.
1976 – Tofu is first made commercially in Belgium by Etablissements Takanami (Takanami Tofu Shop) in Brussels.
1977 – Soymilk is first made commercially in Belgium by Jonathan of Ekeren (near Antwerp). It is labeled Sojatrank, Filtrat von Soja, Soyafiltrate, Sojadrank, Filtraat van Soja, and Filtrat de Soya (in Dutch, French, German, and English).
1978 Oct. 29 – The World Conference on Vegetable Proteins opens in Amsterdam, sponsored by the American Soybean Association. The Proceedings are published in March 1979.
1979 – NV Vandemoortele’s Protein Division (of Izegem, Belgium) issues “Soyamel: A New Source of Protein” – a 9 page booklet.
1980 May 27 – Alpro NV is established as a division of Vandemoortele with a soymilk factory at Izegem, Belgium. It was Philippe Vandemoortele’s idea to start Alpro; he was the grandson of Adhemar Vandemoortele. Then in Jan. 1980 they start to make GranoVita Soja Drink for DE-VAU-GE of Germany. Philippe Vandemoortele, takes the lead in making soymilk and related products and soon becomes one of the leading makers of soymilk and related products throughout Europe. It has two brands: The Provamel line is sold in health food stores throughout Europe, whereas the Alpro line is sold in supermarkets.
1984 Sept. 27-28 – The First European Soyfoods Workshop is held in Amsterdam, sponsored by the American Soybean Association. The Proceedings were published.
1989 Jan. – Alpro N.V. in Izegem, Belgium, launches Alpro Soya Dessert in aseptic cups in 3 flavors (Caramel, Chocolate, and Vanilla).
1989 – Alpro’s new and enlarged soymilk manufacturing plant at Wevelgem, Belgium, begins operation.
1995 Nov. – Alpro starts to make and sell Provamel soy yogurt.
1996 April 22 – Alpro of Belgium acquires Sojinal (Affiliate of Coopérative Agricole de Colmar) of Issenheim, France. Sojinal, which started selling soyfoods in 1990. Sojinal has only one plant; their products are marketed by the Cooperative.
1997 Oct. – Kikkoman Foods Europe B.V. begins operations and starts shipments at its plant in Hoogezand-Sappemeer, the Netherlands. This production facility manufactures Kikkoman sauces for the entire European market.
2009 June 15 – Vandemoortele N.V., Belgium’s largest privately-held food company, sells its Alpro Division to Dean Foods for approximately 325 million Euros. Alpro’s CEO is Bernard Deryckere. The deal is expected to be completed in the third quarter.
2011 – The four largest ports in Europe by cargo tonnage (in million tons) are: 1. Rotterdam, Netherlands (435). 2. Antwerp, Belgium (187). 3. Hamburg, Germany (132). 4. Amsterdam, Netherlands (93). Soybeans are a major item imported through all of these ports.


Click here to download the full text to open and read book History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (1647-2015)