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Creating Value Added Markets

By Benson Hill

aClosed-loop program creates more value per acre for Missouri farmers through high-oleic oil, high protein levels and low oligosaccharide profiles.

One Missouri company is bringing to life what seemed like an almost in-surmountable task for the soybean industry just two decades ago — creating more value for the entire food value chain (with soybean growers at the center) through a closed-loop production system.

Closed-loop systems empower farmers to move beyond getting paid simply for yield and instead embrace a com-position-based model. The thought of earning more for what the bean composition is worth isn’t new, but farmers actually capturing that greater value per acre is. Food-tech innovator Benson Hill, based in St. Louis, now has a robust farmer network that’s delivering Midwest-grown soy to new value-added markets around the world.

Recent breakthroughs in food science, plant science and data science help unlock on-farm benefits for farmers, building upon the natural genetic diversity of plants in ways we couldn’t before.

“The natural genetic diversity of plants is our most significant untapped resource,” says Matt Crisp, CEO of Benson Hill. “Breeding better soybeans at an accelerated rate is a function of CropOS, a proprietary data platform that combines millions of data points from seed to fork. We like to call it a food innovation engine, one that pushes the limits of biology and incorporates consumer desires to create soybeans that are better from the beginning.”

Raising value-added soybeans based on the demands of the end user creates an environment where Missouri soybean growers can contribute to the larger food system, with the potential to generate more revenue for the farm operation. Farmers who partner with Benson Hill can choose to grow varieties with higher oleic oil levels enabled by the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council’s (MSMC) SOYLEIC trait, higher-protein soybeans or other varieties that have a combination of high protein and low oligosaccharides.

High-oleic technology gives soybean oil greater potential for uses such as baking, frying and sauteing in both commercial and home kitchens with a more favorable nutritional profile. The licensing agreement between MSMC and Benson Hill is just one regional relationship created to increase the accessibility of SOYLEIC high-oleic soybeans and healthier oil. In fact, St. Lou-is-based Schnuck Markets Inc. began using Benson Hill’s Veri brand cooking oil in its 100 Schnucks grocery stores across the Midwest last year for a range of food service applications.

“Benson Hill has developed an oil with industry-leading sustainability benefits and a heart-healthy nutritional profile that matches up perfectly with our commitment to nourish people’s lives,” says Geoff Wexler, Vice President of Deli & Prepared Foods for Schnucks. “As a family-owned grocer headquar-tered in St. Louis, we are excited to be working with another St. Louis company whose values align with our mis-sion. Together, we will introduce Veri for use in our prepared foods, while at the same time, maintaining the flavor and top quality our customers have come to know and love.”

And food service is just one of the value-added markets that Missouri growers can access with Benson Hill. Plant-based foods is another. Consumers are demanding more nutritious, more sustainable food choices, driving rapid growth of plant-based foods. Benson Hill’s customers include some of the world’s leading ingredient and food manufacturers, such as Kellogg’s MorningStar Farms, that want seed-to-shelf solutions that are domestically-produced and traceable – ultimately bringing consumers and farmers closer together.

“I appreciate a company breeding for things beyond yield, and protein is an important quality trait overlooked by other companies.” Henry Buell

“I appreciate a company breeding for things beyond yield, and protein is an important quality trait overlooked by other companies. I’m happy to celebrate my third year growing Benson Hill varieties in 2022,” says farmer partner Henry Buell of Buell Farms.

Consistent performance with high-oleic and low-linolenic oil soybeans in combination with good agronomics creates an equation that delivers more value through the entire food chain. High protein combined with higher yielding germplasm means that Benson Hill’s soybean varieties can perform well in many regions. Different varieties are designed to deliver various levels of protein and low oligosaccharides for use in pet food and meat extension applications. Missouri farmers have also grown Benson Hill’s High Protein, non-GMO, low oligosaccharide soybeans for the end market of aquaculture.

Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food production sector in the world. Benson Hill designed and patented its N2358 high-yield potential soybean variety with ultra-high protein and low oligosaccharides to deliver advantages for this booming market. Traditionally, soy has been linked with gut health issues in aquaculture diets attributable in large part to oligosaccharides present in the bean. Together with its U.S. farmer-partners, Benson Hill now provides some of the largest aquaculture companies in the world with superior soy ingredients that are both low in oli-gosaccharides and high in protein.

Another area of demand creation for soy is the human nutrition sector. Creating diversity in protein sources for the human food market gives digitally savvy consumers choices for how to get more protein into their diets. Soy has always been a powerhouse of pro-tein for bars, shakes and meat alternatives. Benson Hill has designed soybean varieties with up to 20% higher protein right out of the ground, which can help deliver a cleaner product la-bel and provide novel sustainability advantages by skipping a water and energy-intensive processing step typically associated with commodity soy protein concentrate. It’s these consumer-driven, genetic innovations that are opening new value-added markets for Missouri soybean growers.

For more information on how to partner in creating more nutritious, more sustainable food ingredients, visit or call 314-594-7624.

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