Often I am asked “Why do soyfoods cost so much more than regular foods?” When I pose the question to soyfoods manufacturers I am usually given one of several answers.
Kim Galeaz, RD
Nutrition Consultant to the Indiana Soybean Board
Although soyfoods are increasingly popular because of recent research findings and new processing techniques that have greatly increased their taste appeal to American consumers, most soyfoods simply are not produced in sufficient quantity to achieve the same economies of scale associated with more traditional foods.
Any specialty food will always be a little more costly, again because they are produced in lower quantities, and soyfoods are still considered specialty foods in many areas.
Where you purchase the item makes a price difference. Where the sales volume is a little higher, such as in natural or health food stores, soyfoods may be sold a more competitive, lower price than in a supermarket.
My answer always includes these reasons, but I also tell people that not all soyfoods are expensive, and some soyfoods are even less expensive than their more traditional counterparts. To find out just how much soyfoods cost, I recently surveyed several stores and compared prices. The results may surprise you. For instance, I found that soynuts may cost anywhere from $0.96 to $2.59 per pound, but peanuts can cost $3.39 to $3.79 per pound. Cashews can cost a whopping $7.85 per pound! There is no doubt that other soyfoods, such as soymilk, may cost a little more, but I believe the added benefits are well worth the cost. Over time, I expect prices will drop as more and more people enjoy these wonderful foods.
To buy or not to buy certain soyfoods based on their cost is up to each individual consumer, and we all have to live within our budget. It may be helpful, though, to have a better understanding of the actual cost differences, along with some reasons as to why you might want to choose a particular soyfood, so the results of my survey are published here. Take a look and decide for yourself whether soyfoods cost too much compared to their benefits.
To find out exactly how soyfoods compare with more traditional foods, I visited several stores, recorded the prices and then listed the results here, along with benefits of each soyfood I investigated. With ALL these price comparisons, keep in mind these are just ranges from my area in Indiana. By no means are these prices what soyfoods should be or what they are in your area. This is just a rough cost comparison for purposes of showing the benefits.
The first item in the list is one that DOESN’T cost more than a similar non-soy item!
- Soynuts 1# roasted, salted: $0.96 – $2.59
- Peanuts 1# cocktail: $3.39 – $3.79
- Cashews 1#: $7.85
- One of the fastest snacks around!
- Lower in fat than other nuts: a 1-ounce serving of most traditional nuts has 14 grams of fat; roasted salted soynuts have only 6 – 8 grams of fat in 1 ounce!
- Such a variety of flavors available: candy-coated, chocolate-coated, yogurt-coated, carob-coated, salted, unsalted, cajun, sour cream & onion, onion & garlic, ranch, barbecue, etc.
- Good source of fiber for a snack: 4 – 6 grams fiber in 1-ounce serving
- Terrific addition to packaged snack mixes and trail/granola mixes
- Great source of soy protein and isoflavones.
VEGETABLE BLEND with GREEN SOYBEANS
- Baby Broccoli Blend with Green Soybeans 1 # bag – 2.09 – 2.99
- Midwest Vege Broccoli Blend 1# bag – 1.99 – 2.39
- A vegetable with protein value due to the green soybeans!
- An easy way to introduce soyfoods to people in a recognizable form of mixed vegetables with broccoli, carrots and water chestnuts
- Easy to prepare and extremely versatile! Serve as side dish or mix in main entree stir fries
- Fiber may be a little higher than other frozen vegetables due to the green soybeans
- Soybeans, dried 1#: $1.19 – $1.49
- Great Northern beans, dried 1#: $0.99 – $1.09
- The only dried bean with genestein, the isoflavone research shows may have tremendous health benefits
- Soybean protein is complete, unlike other dried beans
- Dried beans are one of the most economical protein sources: pound for pound, much less expensive than meat, poultry, or fish
- Easy to use – just soak overnight and cook in soups, stews, entrees, vegetable dishes
- Also available in canned form in some areas
- A new change and addition to all the other dried beans you’ve eaten!
- Soymilk 1 quart aseptic carton: $1.99 – 2.29
- Reduced fat 2% milk, 1 quart: $1.25
- Fat free skim milk, 1 quart: $1.13
- Whole milk, 1 quart: $1.25
- Available in all versions just like regular milk: fat free, low fat, reduced fat, full fat
- No cholesterol!
- Lactose free!
- Can be similar in nutrient profile to regular milk if fortified with Vitamins B12, D, and Calcium
- Flavors! Chocolate, carob, vanilla, plain
- Lasts a long, long time unopened in aseptic pack. (There is an expiration date on the box – I’ve found it tastes fine even after this date)
- Even after it is opened, soymilk will last 7 – 10 days in the refrigerator. I’ve used it up to 15 days, but check it before drinking. Different brands last different lengths of time
- A good source of soy protein and isoflavones
- Great taste! Just use soymilk as you would other milk for baking, cooking, on cereal, and mixed with instant breakfast powder for a quick breakfast (my favorite)
- Soynut Butter 18 oz. jar: $4.49 – $5.49
- Peanut Butter 18 oz. jar: $1.89 – $2.29
- Reduced Fat Peanut Butter 18 oz. jar: $2.39 – $2.49
- Soynut butter is a great tasting alternative to peanut butter if you are tired of peanut butter!
- Soynut butter is naturally a reduced fat spread. Two tablespoons have only 12 grams of fat. Reduced fat peanut butter, same serving, has 12 grams of fat. Regular peanut butter has 16 grams of fat in 2 tablespoons. 3. Good source of soy protein and isoflavones
- Tasty on bagels, sandwiches, English muffins and more!
- Lasts forever! (Well, almost.)
- Soy flour 24 oz. bag (1.5 #): $2.39 – $2.69
- All purpose flour 5# bag: $1.19
- You never replace regular flour with soy flour one for one, so a 24 oz. bag goes a long way. (Soy flour has no wheat gluten, so it doesn’t rise like regular flour. In quick breads and muffins, replace 1/4 of the total flour with soy flour; in yeast-raised recipes, use only 15% soy flour.)
- Soy flour gives a protein boost
- Soy flour adds a richer, nuttier, heartier, more whole-grain texture and taste to foods
- Shelf-life is long if stored in the refrigerator or freezer once opened
- Soy flour is available in defatted, low fat and regular higher fat. And even if you use the higher fat, it doesn’t add much overall fat to the recipe because you aren’t replacing the flour one for one
- Plus, you give yourself extra soy protein and isoflavones and all those health supporting benefits
- Water packed tofu 14 -16 oz.: $1.89 – 2.39 per pound
- Silken tofu 12.3 oz aseptic box: $1.49 – 1.89
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast: $3.59 – $4.59 per pound
- Beef & Pork (depending on cut): $1.99 – 6.99 per pound
- Salmon and cod: $3.99 – $6.99 per pound
- Tofu is tasteless alone so it adapts to any dish and takes on that unique flavor
- Considerably less expensive than most meat, poultry and fish items
- A terrific source of protein and contains isoflavones
- A lot less fat, saturated fat and no cholesterol at all compared to meat, poultry and fish
- Versatile! Not only can tofu be used as an entree, but it also works well blenderized up for dips and salad dressings. Even used in desserts
- Burger Crumbles (12 – 14 oz. package yields 1 pound meat equivalent): $2.19 – $2.79
- VegeBurgers, package of 12, 16 ounces total weight: $1.99 – $3.59
- Ground Beef: $1.79 – 3.49 per pound
- They have fiber because of the soy! Regular meat, poultry and fish do not have fiber at all
- Considerably less total fat, saturated fat, and absolutely no cholesterol compared to beef
- Still all the protein and iron
- Soy crumbles are easier to use than cooking ground beef; crumbles just need to be heated; they are precooked. Works in any recipe you would use ground beef…chili, soups, stews, burritos, taco, spaghetti sauces
- Fastest of the fast – Burger patties can be zapped in microwave for 1 – 2 minutes
- Great taste!
- Bonus: The vegetarian burgers may not necessarily be more expensive than ground beef burgers – see price above.
- Breakfast Links 8 oz: $2.79 – $3.59
- Breakfast Patties 8 oz: $2.69 – $3.59
- Sausage Links & Patties 8 oz.: $1.69 – $1.99
- A lower fat alternative to traditional breakfast meats
- No cholesterol at all
- Contains fiber, unlike regular sausage
- Cooks instantly in skillet or microwave
- Source of soy protein and isoflavones
- Wonderful taste!
- Soy American Singles, 6 oz.: $2.39 – $2.79
- Regular Singles, 12 oz.: $2.79 – $3.19
- Source of soy protein and isoflavones
- Low fat or fat free choices available
- Many do actually melt, unlike some lower fat cheeses
- Versatile – shreds and slices easily; use in any recipe calling for cheese
- Great taste!