Soy Sauce

Soy Sauce Market: The History, Present, and the Future

Practically, there are hundreds of varieties of soy sauce. Varieties that rely on the ingredients used, the process used to make the sauce, and the region where it is made. A few major varieties can be found in grocery stores or listed in recipes: low sodium, light, dark, and tamari.

Innovations in food production have resulted in a quicker, less expensive method of soy sauce production that uses acid-hydrolyzed protein from vegetables. This method requires just a few days and provides a product that is more compatible with a longer shelf life. That being said, this method has been rejected by traditionalists as it does not create the flavor depth found with the traditional brewing method.

What are soy sauces?

Soy sauce is among the oldest condiments in the world that have been used for over 2,500 years in China. A mixture of mashed soybeans, salt, and enzymes is made from fermentation. It is also produced by a chemical process known as acid hydrolysis.

To ensure that the finished sauce fulfills minimum quality requirements, numerous analytical tests are carried out. There are several recommended requirements, for example, in brewed sauces. The total salt should be 13-16% of the final product; the pH level should be 4.6-5.2; and 6% of the total sugar content. There is an average of 42% hydrolyzed protein for the non-brewed type; maize syrup should be less than 10% and Carmel color 1-3%.

History

Soy sauce has a rich and delightful history of use in many delicacies, primarily in China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, like many other soy foods. As early as the 1st century AD in China, the Chinese character “sho” appeared in recipes, referring to a fermented food made either from vegetables or preferably from flesh or fish.

Possibly, this “sauce” was not served in the form of a drink, but rather in the form of an unrefined paste, during the initial periods of soy sauce consumption. In Japanese cuisine, the term “moromi” has often been used to refer to this early paste-like type of soy sauce. Currently, this paste-like form of soy would often simply be identified as “miso.” It may have taken around 500-1,000 years for soy sauce to become prevalent in the form of a true liquid.

What’s New and Beneficial About Soy Sauce?

  • Digestive tract benefits

Recent studies show that soy sauce may provide benefits for the digestive tract. Such benefits relate to the process of soy sauce fermentation and the synthesis during this phase of certain special carbohydrates (known as oligosaccharides). Some of the micro-organisms involved in the fermentation of soy sauce include enzymes that can break apart special soybean fibers (hemicelluloses). When these hemicelluloses are broken apart, oligosaccharides are formed and these oligosaccharides can aid in our large intestine to promote the growth of “good” bacteria.

Soy sauce is widely considered to be a salty food, and this assumption is correct as it is not uncommon for a tablespoon of soy sauce to contain 1,000 milligrams of sodium. In this sense, ‘salt’ and ‘sodium’ can be used interchangeably because table salt consists of sodium and chloride; it is the sodium component involved in health problems in salt-sensitive individuals. It is valid that 1,000 milligrams of sodium is a large amount and it is also about half of the recommended sodium intake limit throughout a day.

  • Over the period, it has become less allergenic

Since soybeans are amongst the eight types of food most often associated with a food allergy, many people believe soy sauce is a food of greater than the normal potential to cause allergy issues. New research on the subject, however, indicates that soy sauce can be a much less allergic-type of soy that can support the immune and inflammatory systems, usually involved in an allergic response.

In this new research, two variables are particularly fascinating. First is the breakdown during the soy sauce fermentation process of essential allergy-triggering proteins in soybeans. The second factor is the benefits of the immune and inflammatory system provided by special polysaccharides in soy sauce. Some of these family carbohydrate molecules may decrease an enzyme’s activity called hyaluronidase. This enzyme’s over activity is linked to increased inflammation as well as increased risk of an allergic reaction. Soy sauce polysaccharides can reduce the risk of an allergic reaction by reducing its activity.

Industry Insights: How have the market giants been strategizing to make it better?

Lee Kum Kee is a Hong Kong-based food company that specializes in manufacturing a wide range of Chinese and Asian sauces. In November of 2018, the company launched a light soy sauce and panda oyster sauce for expanding its business reach to gluten-free substitutes. The company had introduced these sauces for customers that prefer gluten-free due to their changing lifestyle. In 2019, the company further launched a brand new line of Panda Brand Grilling and Dipping Sauces. Keeping in mind the customer preferences, the sauces range included authentic, restaurant-quality soy sauce, condiments, oils, stir-fry, and marinade sauces.

The Future

The future of the soy sauce market is forever changing as breakthroughs are made in food technology. Upgraded processing techniques have already encouraged the development of customized types of soy sauces, like low-sodium and preservative-free variations.

Additionally, the spray drying liquid sauces have formulated dehydrated soy flavors. In coating mixes, seasoning rubs, soup bases, and other dry flavoring applications, these powdered materials are used extensively. It is possible in the future that development in biotechnology will lead to a better comprehension of enzymatic reactions and lead to better techniques of fermentation. In the near future, technology may permit the propagation of true brewed flavor through synthetic chemical methods.