Food ingredients

How soy protein can enrich a food formulation

Being used for over 4,000 years in Asia, soybean continues to rise. According to Global Industry Analysts, Inc., only in 2015 the soy products market has raised $ 42.3 billion around the world.


Projections indicate that this market will have grown at an annual rate of 7.3% by 2020.


This growth is due to a change in the consumer behavior, which sees soy protein as a healthier alternative to animal protein sources.


The growth of the soybean market is also related to an increase in the number of products that have soy protein as an ingredient.

Versatile and functional. Economical and healthy:

These and other characteristics of soy protein will be discussed in this blog post, as well as some of its possible applications and the impact of it in food formulations.


The nutritional value of soy protein

The soybean grain is used for both the extraction of the oil and as a source of protein.

This second application is due to the fact that this raw material has a good level of high quality proteins, having all 9 amino acids that are essential for the human organism.

Added to it;

Soy protein is more economical than animal protein, positively impacting the costs of formulations.

Soy protein is highly digestible, being absorbed and used by metabolism to perform vital functions and to structure the human body.

Studies have shown that the digestibility of soy protein is similar to that of other sources of high quality protein, such as meats, fish, milk and eggs, reaching a digestibility of 91-96% in the case of soy protein as concentrated and isolated products.

Usually, the processing of soybean involves the performance of heat treatment, which guarantees the destruction of the trypsin inhibitor protein, which is difficult to digest.


The use of temperature guarantees an increase in the digestibility and nutritional value of soy protein.

In addition to high digestibility, soy protein is a viable alternative to animal protein because it is completely cholesterol-free.


The possibilities of soy protein



Is one of the main characteristics of soy protein. 

Since it can function as a substitute for animal protein, as in the case of soy milk and meat analogues, or incorporated into a range of meat products, such as hamburger steak, sausage and mortadella.

Several food industries had already heavily invested in the use of soy protein in their formulations. This is due to both the versatility of this ingredient and the healthy reputation that soy and its derivatives have with consumers.

Soy protein is an extremely functional ingredient.

Its main features are:

The ability of hydration;
Colloidal stability;
Acid coagulation; 
The process of foaming.

Among all these characteristics, one highlight is Gelling.

Thats it;

The ability to gel after heating contributes to a better texture in the products, as well as giving structure to the food components and retaining water.

Another interesting feature is the ability to emulsify. Because they have a hydrophilic part and a hydrophobic part in their molecule, soy proteins are able to act by reducing the surface tension, stabilizing oil-in-water emulsions.

In addition;

The application of soy protein, especially the textured soybean, makes it possible to increase viscosity and improve textures. In the final product, the impact of soy protein can prevent breakage of food during cooking, as in sausages, for example.

This feature is extremely important to ensure the quality of products such as: sausages, meatballs and burger steak.


Applications of Soy Protein  


  • Meat Products


With no doubt, the greater use of soy protein is in meat products, since 55% of the production of this ingredient is destined to the processing of this category of products.

For the most part, soy protein is used as an emulsifier for sausages and ground beef to produce hamburger steak.

Soy protein fulfills all functional requirements (hydrophilic, intermolecular and interphase interactions properties) to be part of meat products, hence its popularity in the industry.

Hydrophilic properties are related to the ability of the protein to interact with water. Soy protein, especially the textured soy protein, has excellent interaction with water and also with other molecules present in meat products, such as fat, which is known as intermolecular interaction.

In addition to increasing viscositsy and improving product texture, these interactions also enable a reduction of free water content and water activity, ensuring greater stability to meat products and increased shelf-life.

On the other hand, interphase properties are related to the ability of proteins to bind together in order to reduce interfacial tension, allowing the interaction of two immiscible phases. This capability is especially desirable in embedded products like sausages.

For the application in meat products, the amount of the soy protein added to the formulation may range from 1% to 4%. In this range, the ingredient imparts, besides aesthetic beauty to the product, a good texture and a pleasant flavor, without the production of off-flavors. Soy protein as isolates and concentrates, have the best performances as emulsifiers in meat products.

Textured soy protein, or TSP, is an ingredient produced by extrusion that contains at least about 50% protein. It is produced from defatted soy meal, which also has a composition of about 3.5% fiber and 1.5% fat.

Both TSP and defatted soy meal are widely used in:

Hamburger steak;
Hot dog sausage,;
Other sausages;
Pizza toppings;
Sauces instead of meat.

They have the function of improving the stability, preserving the structure of the product during the heat treatment and helping to maintain the succulence of the meat.

One other advantage is that the granulated form of these ingredients have a fast hydration, an ideal feature for their use in large scale productions.

In steak and hamburger, these ingredients can be used in a proportion of up to 20% without the use of flavorings. In meat and poultry pieces, these soy derivatives help to maintain the structure of the product.

The TSP may still be part of meat analogues formulation, such as nuggets, ensuring a unique flavor and a structure and texture very similar to that of the meat product.

  • Soy milk

One of the most known substitutes for cow’s milk, soy milk is being used for decades, mainly by people who have lactose intolerance and milk protein allergy.

On the other hand, this alternative is also the choice of an audience that seeks for good source of protein added to other important nutrients. A 236-mL portion of soy milk provides 8 g of protein and nearly a third of the daily calcium recommendation.


Further, soy milk also contains: magnesium, potassium, polyunsaturated fatty acids, iron and fiber, which help in the prevention of gastrointestinal diseases and contribute to the normal functioning of the intestine.

Soy milk is also rich in B-complex vitamins. Among them, thiamine, which contributes to the normal functioning of muscle functions and nerve functions, stands out.

Besides having all these nutrients, some studies relate soy protein intake to a reduction in blood cholesterol, reinforcing the hypothesis that soy protein is a viable alternative for those who wish to have a healthy lifestyle.




Soy derivatives meet various demands of modern consumers, such as the addition of nutrients like proteins, fibers and vitamins to food products.

Soy protein is understood as a functional, nutritional ingredient that can be used both as a substitute for animal protein and as an emulsifying agent in meat products, further contributing to a significant improvement in the texture, structure and taste of these foods.

Ingredients such as textured soy protein and defatted soy meal have much to add to formulations, ensuring products that meet the expectations of the most demanding consumers, while at the same time promoting cost savings for companies.

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