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Research & Development

Soluble Soy Polysaccharides- Sparking a revolution in the beverage and pre-cooked meal markets

Soy pulp, the headache of the soy industry

Industrial use of soybeans to make tofu and soy milk results in the derivation of large quantities of soy pulp. Although some of this pulp is used in foods and other products, much of it goes unused. For companies handling soybeans, the disposal of soy pulp has been a big problem. The discarding of soy fiber also imposes a heavy burden on the environment. At Fuji Oil as well, large amounts of soy fiber are derived from the soybeans used, and we have treated them at an enormous cost by, for example, drying them to permit use for fertilizer and feed.

Convinced of the possibilities of soy and determined to promote soy business, Fuji Oil decided to take up the challenge of resolving this problem and launched studies on ways to make effective use of soy pulp.

Soy pulp, the headache of the soy industry

Success in extraction of soluble soy polysaccharides

Soy pulp is known to contain much edible fiber. Polysaccharides (= edible fiber) are likewise known to have various highly interesting functions in areas such as property improvement and effects in the aspect of nutritional physiology. We succeeded in extracting water-soluble fiber (= soluble soy polysaccharides) through a landmark method using soy pulp as raw material. As a result of research into the prospects for use of soluble soy polysaccharides as food ingredients, we discovered functions that held diverse possibilities.

Success in extraction of soluble soy polysaccharides

Giving refreshing taste for acidic milk beverages, which had previously been impossible

The function by which soluble soy polysaccharides ignited a revolution in the food market is the stabilization of acidic milk beverages. Ordinarily, the process of making milk beverages acidic results in the precipitation of milk protein. Pectin extracted from fruit has conventionally been used as a stabilizer to prevent precipitation. This serves to keep the milk protein from precipitating, but it also results in a syrupy taste. We found that the use of soluble soy polysaccharides both prevented the precipitation of milk protein and enabled production of milk beverages with a smooth and refreshing taste.

An examination of the molecular structure revealed that, when given a negative electrical charge, the soluble soy polysaccharides cover the surface of milk protein particles with a layer of water, and this prevents the particles from sticking together and precipitating.

Soluble soy polysaccharides

Soluble soy polysaccharides

Use of soluble soy polysaccharides led to the birth of refreshing acidic milk beverages along the lines of soft drinks, with no precipitation of milk protein. Because they prevent precipitation and a worsening of appearance even in storage for long periods, soluble soy polysaccharides are used in many beverages sold in bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The use of their functions is hardly confined to beverages; it is also in widespread application for frozen confections, desserts, and other items.

Acidic milk beverages

Soluble soy polysaccharides

Soluble soy polysaccharides

without soluble soy polysaccharides
precipitation of milk protein

stabilization of milk protein
due to the effect of
soluble soy polysaccharides

Acidic milk beverages with no precipitation of milk protein
for long periods

An item indispensable for the pre-cooked meal market

We also learned that soluble soy polysaccharides had benefits for rice and noodles. Because they preserve surface moisture, rice cooked with them has a firm surface and is less liable to become hard even if stored in the refrigerator. Similarly, they help to keep noodles from clumping. Because they deliver these benefits, soluble soy polysaccharides are in extensive use for rice products and noodle dishes sold in convenience stores and supermarkets.

Improvement of prepared noodle dishes by reduced clumping

Improvement of prepared noodle dishes
by reduced clumping

rice products

Soluble soy polysaccharides are now absolutely indispensable food ingredients in the market for pre-cooked meals. The soy pulp that no one else was able to put to effective use was transformed into soluble soy polysaccharides by research and development programs at Fuji Oil, and brought new value to the market. In recognition of this achievement, the Fuji Oil team in charge of the development was given the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Minister Prize for Science and Technology in 2006, and Mr. Hirokazu Maeda, who led this development at Fuji Oil, the Order of the Purple Ribbon in 2008.
* The company name is as of the time of receipt of this award.