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Project SOY 1996/1997 Winners


In the first year of Project SOY (Soybean Opportunities for Youth), a fruit-based soy custard took the cake winning $2,500 and first place overall for innovation and marketability. Fantasia is the name of the product that targets health-conscious consumers looking for alternative desserts.

Fourth year students Jennifer Lo and Nicole Lepkowski from the Department of Food Science are the product developers. The duo sought to develop a product that does not exhibit an objectionable 'beany' flavour, in order to attract mass market appeal. The outcome was a soy-based custard that tastes great and is competitively priced compared to shelf-stable puddings and fresh yogurts.

"The product fits society's image of a 'good' food," says Nicole, noting that "it's high in protein, low in fat, tastes great, is all-vegetarian, and is relatively inexpensive."

Most of the development centres around making a delicious product that is totally vegetarian, easily processed, consists of a clean label, and most importantly, is cost competitive with existing related products. The final product has a smooth texture, opaque light colour, creamy appearance and taste, silky mouth feel, and is highly compatible with fruit pieces. The custard is also lactose free, making it ideal for lactose-intolerant consumers.

Expanding the boundaries of soybean use through product innovations like Fantasia will help to create new opportunities for Ontario soybeans.

Second place ribbon


Puffed soybeans are paying off for engineering students, as 'Soy-Good Snax' claims second place in the Project SOY contest. Engineering students Jody Lewis, Cori Cowan, Jennifer Kinoshita, and Karen Conrad developed a puffed soy-based snack food to attract health-conscious consumers in convenience store, health food store, and vending machine markets.

'Soy-Good Snax' would have the texture and consistency of a cheesie, with healthy flavouring options, including apple and cinnamon. Preliminary marketing research indicates that 64% of university students that were asked would be willing to try this new product.

"We wanted to develop a product that had real-life applications," says team member Cori Cowan. "The potential for a product like 'Soy-Good Snax' can also extend into breakfast cereals and beyond."

Developing a product to promote the health benefits of soy, namely the high protein and low fat content of this oilseed, was a driving force behind 'Soy-Good Snax'. Combine with this the changing demands of a highly profitable snack food industry, and a healthy snack choice becomes a good investment.

The snack contains 68% soy-flour. Products like this will boost demand for Ontario grown soybeans and promote the use of soy in the mass market. The shelf life of 'Soy-Good Snax' is calculated at 62 days. This means that distribution of the product can take place on a national or international basis, greatly expanding the market.

A snack product containing soy has excellent potential in retail markets. Further research and development of innovative products like 'Soy-Good Snax' is contributing to the market potential of Ontario soybeans.

Third place ribbon


Improving marketing strategies for Ontario soybeans was the focus for Project SOY third place finishers Yaling Fan and Lawrence Wang. This agricultural business and economics duo examined factors within the population that influence how soymilk should be marketed.

Recognizing that soybean products are a staple food for many within the Asian Canadian population, Fan and Wang explored ways in which the image of soy foods could be improved among non-Asian Canadians.

Recommendations include packaging soy milk in 340 mL cans or boxes, to provide the market with a low fat, healthy, and convenient drink. Adding flavours, such as chocolate or strawberry, also has mass market appeal as these value-added products fit the tastes of Canadian consumers.

"We see a market in this area, but convenient, value-added soymilk is not always available in stores," says marketing researcher Yaling Fan. "Increasing soybean consumption through the promotion of conveniently packaged soymilk is an area of marketing that has a lot of room for future expansion."

Initial marketing tests indicate that 67% of young non-Asian Canadians surveyed were willing to buy soymilk in small volumes for the convenience and health benefits of the product. Marketing studies such as this provide useful insights in an effort to better direct the future promotion of soy-based products.


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