Soy-based ‘peanut butter’ launch boosted by salmonella scare

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Peanut

Canada-based company Hilton Soy Foods has developed a soy butter for nut-free environments which it claims looks and tastes just like peanut butter – and food safety concerns are widening its appeal.

Developed over the past four years in response to the growing prevalence of nut allergies, the company now sees much wider opportunities for its product. More than three million North Americans are allergic to peanuts, and for reasons that are unclear, the number seems to be rising. But the salmonella scandal linked to peanut products has given the company’s soy butter launch an unexpected boost.

Senior account manager at Hilton Soy Foods David Singsank told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “Sales [of soy products] have picked up in the past few months...The other thing about soy is that there is a huge population who like to eat soy, so we think that it is going to pick up amongst soy advocates.”

The company has emphasized that its soy butter is produced in a completely enclosed stainless steel system, which it says cuts out risk of contamination, as well as preventing oxidization – which can produce off flavors.

Soy butter challenges

Hilton Soy Foods also produces granulated roasted soybeans using a process designed to simulate the flavor of peanuts, but developing its soy butter involved confronting new challenges.

Singsank said: “Roasting soy beans is a pretty easy thing to do, but making soy butter is much more difficult, and so we felt there was a niche where we could do better than others.

“The most important thing was coming up with the right taste. We wanted it to taste as close to peanut butter as possible, through the roasting process. Additionally, we wanted to get a very smooth mouthfeel texture without using partially hydrogenated oil, like peanut butter often does, and to prevent oil separation.”

In order to do this, he said, the company chose to use a natural monoglyceride as an emulsifier.

Although there are other soy butter products on the market, some reportedly have a problematic bitter aftertaste. Singsank explained that in order to achieve a peanutty flavor, the variety of soybeans used is just as important as the roasting process.

He added that the company is a family-owned business that uses all natural ingredients, including non-GMO soybeans from its own farm.

“We wanted to make something the whole family believes in,” ​he said.

Hilton Soy Foods processes ten million pounds of soybeans each year.

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