The Soy Protein Mobile Unit taking soy messaging right to the doorstep of food industry leaders
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) took soy-positive messaging on the road this summer with the mobile soy protein tour. The tour, which began on June 22, allowed ISA staff, board members and farmer members the opportunity to discuss the benefits and perceptions of soy with food industry leaders and consumers.
The mobile unit visited six different stops throughout Illinois between Chicagoland and Bloomington, sharing soy’s heart-healthy message along the way.
“We felt it was important to take the soy protein message to our food industry customers, and to help them better understand sustainable soy and the Illinois farmers that grow it,” says Rachel Peabody, ISA Director of Communications.
Sustainability is Just the Beginning
The tour kicked off with the Illinois Association of Vocational Agriculture Teachers (IAVAT) Conference in Springfield, where teachers found educational messaging, an interactive quiz, and freebies like shaker bottles, soy ice cream sandwiches and soy lattes.
The mobile unit then headed north to Chicagoland where it stopped at the Institute of Food Technologies’ Fun Run at the McCormick Place Convention Center. While there, ISA staff gave away soy lattes and soy ice cream sandwiches to help fuel race participants – or at least help with recovery.
ISA staff met with members of food industry who work directly with ingredients. Conversations touched on the concern for consumers’ soy allergies and the fact that soy is the only non-meat protein source that contains all nine amino acids essential for human health.
Soy as a Food Source
The mobile unit next stopped at Farmers Fridge, a company dedicated to simplifying access to fresh, healthy meals for everyone, whether on the go or at home. What started as a network of smart refrigerators designed to make finding fresh and healthy meals as simple as buying a vending a candy bar has evolved to more than 400 refrigerators in airports, hospitals, office buildings, universities and more all over the country.
Parked outside Farmers Fridge’s office in Chicago, ISA staff provided soy lattes and for the folks putting Farmers Fridge’s fresh meals together.
The fun didn’t stop there as the mobile unit made its way down to Springfield for a stop at the Illinois Products Farmers Market. While there, ISA staff talked with consumers about how soy is used as an ingredient.
In fact, many consumers weren’t opposed to using soy as an ingredient, but few knew where to find it.
“I did not know soy was in so many products and you could find it so easily in regular grocery stores,” said Tasha Benson of Springfield. “I always assumed you would have to go to those health food stores to find this kind of stuff.”
“I’ve been using soy as a protein source for years now – ever since I made the switch to vegetarianism,” said Springfield resident Krista Garret. “In my opinion, soy has definitely come a long way in terms of taste from what I remembered it being like as a young adult.”
Educating Consumers and Food Industry Leaders
After stopping at the Illinois Products Farmers Market, it was time to head to the ballpark. The ISA took over the Normal Cornbelters’ Corn Crib renaming the central Illinois baseball team the “Soy Sluggers” for one night only as they took on the Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp.
While there, consumers learned more about how soy is low in saturated fat, is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and potassium, and is high in iron, magnesium. What’s more, consumers heard from ISA staff about how soy may protect against certain cancers like prostate cancer, and the development of breast cancer.
The mobile unit’s final stop was at OC Farms in Kankakee at the ISA Gather Around the Table event. There, food industry partners enjoyed a farm tour and had the chance to taste the versatility that soy offers as every course incorporated soy in some way.
Soy protein messaging wasn’t contained to just the mobile unit’s stops; consumers up and down Illinois roadways saw the ISA’s wrapped truck and trailer. In fact, almost four thousand people passed the mobile unit during its travels, that’s quite an impression! Not to mention over 600 people got an opportunity to tour the exhibit while at our six stops.
For more information on soy protein, visit https://www.ilsoy.org/category/bean-there-a-trade-exports-blog/protein/.