FAS Helps Pack Protein Punch Across the Pacific

The Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Beijing  recently partnered with the U.S. dry edible bean industry to launch a program that aims to pack more protein into Chinese diets.

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA), along with the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission (NDBC), joined the FAS Beijing ATO to begin a program to promote the use of U.S. dry beans within China. NDA and NDBC funded research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to show how dry beans can be used in various ways. For example, dry beans may be ground into flour and added to pastry flour to increase the nutritional value of noodles, which are a staple in the Chinese diet. Traditionally, China has used dry beans for bean paste or soup but little else.

Through the FAS Emerging Markets Program, the FAS Beijing ATO brought a Chinese delegation of food manufacturers to Nebraska in late June to see first-hand how to take advantage of the low-cost, high-protein supply of U.S. dry beans. The delegation participated in a seminar to learn about NDBC and the state’s dry bean industry, conducted taste tests, and visited grocery stores to observe packaging and marketing techniques. These efforts piqued the delegation’s interest in adding flavored dry whole beans to instant noodles and using dry beans as an ingredient for instant noodle seasoning bags.

Recently, the FAS Beijing ATO hosted NDBC in Beijing to meet with Jin Mai Lang, the world’s largest instant noodle producer, to discuss technical applications and uses of dry beans. Additionally, NDBC met with other key Chinese food manufacturers to discuss new market opportunities for several U.S. dry bean products.

China is Nebraska’s fourth-largest trading partner and one of the state’s fastest growing markets, having more than doubled during the past five years with a 36-percent increase in 2011 alone. The state’s success is just one example of how U.S. agricultural exports are supporting jobs, boosting the economy and improving the balance of trade due to a surging demand around the world for the American brand of agriculture.