Professional Proteins celebrates 20 years of organic processing

By Beth Bennett
Posted 9/14/21

When I mention to people where I work, they often ask “where is that?” or “what do you guys do out there?”. Professional Proteins is the small mill north of Washington along …

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Professional Proteins celebrates 20 years of organic processing

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When I mention to people where I work, they often ask “where is that?” or “what do you guys do out there?”. Professional Proteins is the small mill north of Washington along Highway 1, and we process organic soybeans and make organic livestock feeds, especially for poultry producers in the area.

Our method of processing soybeans is much different than large agricultural companies. We utilize extrusion technology, which is a mechanical method of processing. Raw soybeans are ground, and then cooked through extruders.

The cooked soybeans are then pressed to remove the soy oil. The resulting product is a high energy soy protein meal that has been mechanically processed instead of using chemicals such as hexane in the process. This method is perfect for certified organic livestock feeds, as there are no chemicals allowed in organic foods or feed.

In 2001 we applied for and were granted our first organic certificate by the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s Organic Ag Program. We were the first such processor to be certified by the State’s program. We are now in our 20th year of organic certification.  We started with just soybean processing, but over the years our facility has evolved into a full-service organic feed mill.  We offer complete feeds and organic ingredients to many customers all over the region.

Here are a few interesting facts about organic soybean production in Iowa:

• There are over 1000 certified organic operations in Iowa.

• There are over 150 organic farms in just Washington and Johnson counties.

• Iowa is ranked #1 in organic soybean production in the United States, supplying 16.5% of the total.

• The market for organic soybeans in Iowa can range from $18/bu to over $30/bu.

There’s no doubt that organic is a growing industry. In 2016, the organic food market in the US reached $50 billion, having grown 10% per year since 2010. It is the fastest growing sector in the US food market and has been for the past 20 years.

We purchase organic soybeans from all over Iowa and the US Midwest, and our products are delivered back to livestock feed farmers in our service area, which includes most of Eastern Iowa. We are very fortunate to be located where we are, as we have never had to import any organic soybeans or soy meal like many other processors around the country. We are proud to keep our suppliers and customers as local as we can.

We are always looking for new opportunities for organic farmers, and we encourage anyone thinking about transitioning to organic to consider growing soybeans. As our business grows, we can always use more soybeans and more organic farmers!

Staff includes: Beth Bennett, Operations Manager, 23 years with the company; Protacio Marcelino, Production Manager, 1 year with the company; Kevin Rose, 25 years; Ed Griggs, 24 years; and Jane Shank, 2 years.

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