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American Natural Soy —

By Staff | Nov 21, 2008

VANDER SCHAAFFarm News staff writerCHEROKEE – In the 1990s, when the hog market dipped to $10 per hundredweight, Mark and Julie Schuett felt it was too risky to invest more dollars into their family farm pork business.Instead, they chose to expand and diversify their soy processing business. At that time they were crushing soybeans exclusively for livestock use.A closed-feed business in Cherokee had been closed five years and the Schuetts thought it had potential. It made more sense to move the processing equipment to Cherokee, the Schuetts said.A year after the move, they build an oil refinery, taking unrefined oil and transforming it into a shelf-ready product – a fully refined, food-grade, vegetable oil.The process the Schuetts follow, is a totally organic process. No chemicals are involved at any level.Safflower, sunflower, canola and soybean are the major oils refined at the Cherokee plant. Flax seed oil is another oil refined.Another product manufactured is soy lecithin. Mark Schuett describes that as an emulsifier.“Water and oil don’t mix well, it needs an emulsifier,” he said. “When oil is added to a water-base product, the emulsifier is needed to keep the product blended so the two don’t separate.”Soy lecithin is used primarily in the cooking and cosmetic industries.American Natural Soy is the only plant in the world commercially selling a 100 percent organic, chemical-free, natural soy lecithin, Schuett said. In the food industry its value comes from its emulsifying properties, which promotes brain function. The cosmetic industry desires it as a safe emulsifier. For instance, moisturizers are a combination of oil and water.That is why Estee Lauder sought out American Natural Soy as the provider for the organic soy lecithin it needed for a new line of cosmetics, Schuett said. Origins Organics was launched in six countries and nine major U.S. cities roughly a year ago.Before that could happen much preparation work went into producing the makeup line. American Natural Soy was thoroughly inspected by Estee Lauder. There is a certain threshold of microbial activity allowed when producing food. American Natural Soy has always been within specifications.But with cosmetics the tolerance is much lower. It was a struggle to find ways of lowering the count while remaining organic. American Natural Soy worked with Estee Lauder following that company’s suggestions, changing to more sophisticated equipment and even the process somewhat.Estee Lauder was very picky and thorough, Schuett recalled.Constant testing is done in the microbial lab. The fact that American Natural Soy lowered its microbial counts to comply with the cosmetic industry’s specifications carries over into its food products.“Before, we manufactured a very good food product, now we have an even greater product,” said Schuett. “From this experience we have gained knowledge that enables us to make better food products.”That’s a good thing.”Contact Renae Vander Schaaf at suncrest@netllcwb.net.

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