Soy in Food – Protein and Oil

Updated: February 17, 2014

Current Situation

The food industry uses both protein and oil from U.S. soybeans to make a wide variety of food products. The meal is used as a vegetable protein source in products such as meat alternatives and soy milk. Soybean meal’s use in food products grew rapidly for a while but has become steady. Soybean oil remains the most prevalent vegetable oil in the United States. The food industry uses soybean oil to fry food and also in large-scale bakeries. You can also find soybean oil throughout the grocery store, from bottles of pure vegetable oil to salad dressings and margarines. Soybean oil has lost market share to oils like palm and canola during the last decade.

Why the Checkoff Cares

Food plays an important role in the demand for soybean oil and helps add value to farmers’ bottom lines. Food also contributes to the demand of soybean meal. The checkoff funds research to prove soy’s positive health attributes and the impacts it has on the human diet. The checkoff also meets with food-industry representatives to discuss soy’s role in food ingredients.

Key Points

The soy checkoff helped establish the FDA’s soy heart-health claim that says: “Twenty-five grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.” This applies only to the protein side of soy.
Consumers perceive food products made from soy as healthy. (USB consumer attitudes survey)

The food industry is the largest customer for U.S. soybean oil, using it in frying, baking and as an ingredient in many popular products. (USB Marketview Database)

Soybean oil is a source of omega-3 and vitamin E in diets.

Facts & Figures

  • 68 percent – The food industry uses 68 percent of the soybean oil used in the United States. (USB Marketview Database)
  • 12 billion pounds – The annual soybean-oil demand from the U.S. food industry (USB Marketview Database)
  • 2 percent – Soy-based protein products for human consumption make up 2 percent of the demand for U.S. soybean meal. (USB Marketview Database)

Other Resources