The soybean industry is looking to band together with the livestock and poultry sectors in a new effort to promote U.S. protein overseas. 

Polly Ruhland, CEO of the United Soybean Board, says she’s concerned there’s a break developing between her industry and the meat and poultry sectors over the growth in sales of plant-based alternatives. 

The industries should work together in developing countries, she says, because low-income consumers who rely on soy protein products will eventually eat fish, chicken and eggs and even pork and beef once their incomes rise. 

Ruhland’s initial contacts with other sectors hadn’t generated much interest, she acknowledged. But she introduced the idea, “Protein First,” at the recent World Food Prize symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, emphasizing the benefit of U.S. protein to meeting global nutrition needs.

“If the entire protein industry would think like that, at least with a portion of their investments would think non-competitively … then we could think about which countries the entire industry could invest in to help the other parts of the industry out,” Ruhland said in an interview on the sidelines of the symposium. 

Moving consumers in developing countries “from protein to protein is in the best interest of the entire protein category. And we are competing against proteins from other countries,” she said. 

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