States work to reach consumers with new associations

Once in a blue moon, a women's magazine or radio/TV show features tasty soyfoods and their possible health benefits. Now, two new soyfoods organizations hope to turn rare events like that into regular occurrences.

Last fall, the newly formed Minnesota Soyfoods Association was started by the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. About the same time, the Iowa Soybean Association hired an executive director for its just-forming Soyfoods Council.

Their goal is the same: to sell consumers on the value of soyfoods.

"Our soy council has so much great information," says Elizabeth Gunderson, the food consultant coordinating the Minnesota program. "I've spoken to several groups, and volunteers have handed out things at the state fair."

But what's the best way to get this information to the people who want it?

"It's through the people in the test kitchens who are coming up with tomorrow's cookbooks. Or food writers or people with a strong interest in soy information," Gunderson says.

Minnesota's soyfoods association is asking local food and health professionals, soyfood manufacturers and interested consumers to become members for $35/year. Members can exchange or gain new soyfood information, network and help promote soyfoods. They'll also receive a quarterly newsletter, filled with the latest in soyfood research and announcements, plus recipes and a forum to ask or answer questions. A members-only Web site is also in the works.

The Soyfoods Council will be national in scope, says Linda Funk, executive director. Funk hopes to utilize food writers and some well-known chefs on an advisory committee, not yet formed. Soyfood companies are being asked to join for $1,000 a year. At least six to eight state soybean associations have been approached to help support the organization, which will hold its first meeting early this year, Funk says.

"Our target audience is really women, and there is also a great opportunity with children. But the vehicles to reach consumers are food editors and the food service industry," Funk explains. "We need to show consumers simple ways to incorporate soy into their favorite meals, whether eaten at home or not."

She hopes that a few misconceptions - such as that soy should substitute for meat - will be laid to rest as well.

"This is not all or nothing. It's a process of introducing soy into your diet and providing interesting ideas and tips for you and your family," she says.

Appearances on TV programs and radio shows, as well as newspaper and magazine stories, are part of Funk's soyfood marketing plan.

Although it's the first time state soybean associations have started subsidiary groups of this sort, a national soyfoods association has been in existence since 1978. The Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA), based in Washington, D.C., has operated as a national clearinghouse for soyfood and health information, says Nancy Chapman, executive director. Its 65 members are soybean manufacturers, processors, Soyfoods continued from page 66 equipment suppliers, farmers and consultants.

The national organization provides seminars for members, serves as an information base on soyfood manufacturing and offers product information. It also promotes products in supermarkets and through the media during April, which is Soyfoods Month.

"We try to work with each state soybean board as well as with councils," Chapman says. She sees the new soyfoods groups as complementing rather than competing with SANA.

Funk agrees. "SANA in the past has worked incredibly well on regulatory issues and standards. It has promoted Soyfoods Month. It's not a competition situation at all."

For more information on the Minnesota Soyfoods Association, write: 360 Pierce Ave, Suite 110, North Mankato, MN 56003. Phone: 888-896-9678. To reach the Soyfoods Council, write: 4554 NW 114 St, Urbandale, IA 50322. Phone: 515-727-0796.

SMORGASBOARD OF SOYFOOD SOURCES

The following resources of soyfood information cover the gamut. They offer health, research, new product and general food information as well as recipes and ways to incorporate soy into existing diets.

There's a wealth of information on the Internet. Readers who don't have at-home access to the Internet, however, may want to utilize computers at their local libraries.

Just-food.com offers a free e-mail newsletter with weekly updates on news and food industry events. Its Web site is filled with food industry news.

Soyatech.com offers an abundance of soy information utilizing newsletters and its Soya & Oilseed Bluebook, a comprehensive directory, reference and statistical resource for the soybean and oilseed industry. An online version of the bluebook can be downloaded from the site. For more information, contact: Soyatech, Inc., Peter Golbitz, P.O. Box 84, 318 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609. Phone: 207-288-4969; fax: 207-288-5264; e-mail data@soyatech.com.

Soybean.org is billed as a clearinghouse for soyfood information on the Internet. The United Soybean Board (USB), a number of state soybean organizations and soy-related companies have joined forces to provide the site. It will provide links to soyfood info, production and non-food uses of soybeans.

Soyfoods.com offers recipes, descriptions of soyfoods, health, nutrition and research info, soy product company contacts, a sample meal planner, books on soy, and links to other soy-related sites, including online soyfood mail order sites. It also offers a free monthly e-mail newsletter offering much the same. The Indiana Soybean Board created the site.

The U.S. Soyfoods Directory can be downloaded from this site, as well as from some others listed here. It's published by the Indiana Soybean Board, 5757 W 74th St, Indianapolis, IN 46278-1755. For a paper copy, call 800-Talk-Soy (800-825-5769).

Soyfoods.org is the Web site of the Soyfoods Association of North America, a non-profit group of soyfood companies, nutritionists, food scientists and others, dedicated to promoting the use of soy. The site offers technical regulatory information as well as recipes, food facts, publications and news on soy. Write: Soyfoods Association of North America, 1723 U Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20009. Phone: 202-986-5600.

The Soyfoods Center has an impressive listing of available books on soy. Contact: The Soyfoods Center, Bill Shurtleff, P.O. Box 234, Lafayette, CA 94549. Phone: 510-283-2991; fax: 510-283-9091.

Talksoy.com is maintained by USB, offering soy health and product information, recipes and background on the soy protein health claim.

www.ag.uiuc.edu/~stratsoy/new/ is the home page of StratSoy, a site with a host of soy information links to recipes, health news, varietal information and much more.

If you're on the 'net, do a multiple search (dog pile.com, searchking.com) for soyfoods. You'll get links to soyfood companies offering recipes, health info and products online. For more help, contact your state's soybean association or check out this magazine's site for a listing of those associations - and more.