The Joy of Sustainable Soy Tour took place March 25 in Savannah, GA.

Leading into the Research Chefs Association annual conference, Qualisoy hosted food industry professionals on a Joy of Sustainable Soy Tour. The event aimed to inform and educate about the latest soy-based fats and oils from Stratas Foods and how the industry and supply chain are supporting sustainable soy production.

The day started with a hands-on demonstration by Mitch Riavez, certified master baker and bakery sales manager, Stratas Foods, and Vincent Barcelona, director of culinary and corporate chef, Stratas Foods. Both showed how high oleic soybean oil could be beneficial in frying and baking with a pork belly sample and icing formulation. Mr. Riavez also presented an overview of options for replacing partially hydrogenated oils with high oleic soy. 

“It’s gotten to the point in the baking industry where bakers don’t care so much about cost,” Mr. Riavez said. “They just want something that works the best.” He made the case that high oleic soy was the closest the industry has come to a drop-in alternative to PHOs. 

High oleic soybean oil can be used in icing formulations.

Over lunch, attendees listened to a panel of experts representing different aspects of the soy supply chain. The panel — moderated by Pam Smith, registered dietician nutritionist and culinary nutrition consultant — included Andrea Chu, sustainable agriculture analyst, Campbell Soup Co.; Meagan Kaiser, sustainability target area coordinator, United Soybean Board, and COO and soil scientist with Perry Agricultural Laboratory; Maggie Monast, manager, Sustainable Sourcing and Environmental Defense Fund; Megan Weidner, vice-president, corporate responsibility and sustainability, Bunge North America; Kraig Westerbeek, senior director, Smithfield Renewables. 

The panel explained how the supply chain is working toward more sustainability and transparency. Many on the panel echoed that many of the sustainable practices were good for the farmer, good for the earth and good for people who love food. 

“Sustainability can be about becoming more efficient,” Ms. Kaiser said. “It also is often good for the farmer, financially and yielding a better crop and land that will be in good shape for the future.” 

With so many sides of the supply chain represented, a common theme was responsibility and communication up and down the supply chain. 

“A recent trend we’ve seen is companies are taking responsibility for their entire supply chain, some of which they can’t control,” Ms. Monast said. “Consumers think that if it’s a part of your supply chain, you should be responsible for it. Companies are working together to improve efficiencies.” 

The tour concluded with a visit to Live Oak Farms, a family farm owned by the Kessler family that grows soy as well as pecans, peanuts, cotton and other crops. Andrew Kessler gave an inside look at what sustainable farming practices look like in the real world.