We're no longer silly for soy. The darling ingredient of the natural products industry lost its luster as consumers began connecting the phytoestrogen-rich soybean with hormonal havoc, including deleterious effects on thyroid function, fertility and sex drive. The added pressure of being a genetically modified crop with dwindling unadulterated sources hasn't done much to bolster public opinion of soy.
Soymilk sales slipped 3.5 percent between 2009 and 2010, according to Schaumburg, Ill.-based market research firm SPINS, which also reported lackluster numbers for tofu and soy-based infant formulas. While attaining Non-GMO Project verification addresses consumers’ GMO concerns, what's a manufacturer to do about soy's potentially harmful phytoestrogen? A new company claims to have the answer. Using a patented process, Wilmington, Del.-based EarthSpring Foods unveiled PrimaSoy, a phytoestrogen-free soybean at Natural Products Expo East in September.
Certainly, plant-based protein sources are gaining traction with the growing numbers of vegan and vegetarian consumers, but can soy—by ditching the phytoestrogen—regain its seat in the sun? As much as shoppers want to eat green, they're also looking for minimally processed goods, and stripping phytoestrogen from a soybean seems more than a little invasive. Do you think EarthSpring's PrimaSoy will have legs in the U.S. market? Hear EarthSpring spokesman Bob Madison describe how the process works and who's paying attention.