Start-up soy ingredient firm Central Iowa Soy says it is the only company to be selling the Triple Null low-lypoxygenase soybean, developed by scientists at Iowa State University's Department of Agronomy. According to the company's general manager Larry Thomsen, the bean, which is currently undergoing taste tests, is particularly suited for snack products targeting consumers who want the benefits of soybeans without the beany taste. Lipoxygenase isozymes, which are present in regular soybeans, produce off-flavors by hydroperoxidation of fatty acids and by interaction with protein in flours, concentrates and isolates. The undesirable flavors are characterized as beany, grassy, painty, astringent and bitter, and reduce acceptance of soy products by many consumers who prefer a bland flavor in these products. Normal mature soybean seeds contain three lipoxygenase isozymes important for flavor - hence the informal tag - Triple Null - given to the lipoxygenase-free variety. Developed by cross-breeding, Triple Null is non-GMO, said Central Iowa Soy. The firm has signed research agreements with Iowa State University, where Dr Walt Fehr and his team are conducting consumer taste trials with the roasted bean. Fehr has already conducted extensive research on the variety's sensory and flavor characteristics, and has co-authored a study published in a 1998 issue of the Journal of Food Science on the bean's performance in soymilk and tofu. The goal, says Thomsen, is for the latest round of tests to be completed by December this year, after which Central Iowa Soy will start marketing the oil-roasted soybean product both directly to retail, and as an ingredient for the food manufacturing industry. The firm has already sent out trials to customers, and said it has received mixed responses depending on the type of consumers companies are targeting. "Asians still like their beany flavor, so we know this product is not for them. It's mainly suited for consumers who tend to avoid soy because they don't like the taste," said Thomsen. "In the baking industry this is probably not going to be an issue, as soybeans incorporated into baked goods tend to have their beany taste masked anyway. The interest will probably come from the snack industry, where the product is eaten more directly and so has a more intense taste," he told FoodNavigator-USA.com. The firm, which specializes in the manufacture of oil-roasted soybeans and soy nuggets, uses a roasting process that exposes the beans to extreme heat and then dries them down to 2-3 percent moisture. In the firm's regular soybean products, this process eliminates some of the beany flavor, but to "nowhere near" the same levels as achieved by using Triple Null beans, said Thomsen. Central Iowa Soy, which is owned by farmer producers and land owners, has only been in operation for around a year. The company currently has a capacity of 3m lbs, and hopes by fiscal 2008 to achieve up to $3m in sales. As well as oil-roasted soybeans, the firm produces oil-roasted sweet corn. It has also signed additional agreements with Iowa State University to conduct research on the taste and nutritional differences of dry-roasted, compared to oil-roasted, soybeans.