One director of the United Soybean Board calls the work they’re doing to find new uses for U.S. soybean growers “kinda cool.” USB vice-chair Dan Farney from Illinois says the checkoff work to increase demand includes finding new ways soybeans and their by-products can be used, and the hope is some of the developments, like work with Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company come to fruition.
“Goodyear is working on putting regular soybean oil in tire treads which makes it softer and grips the road better,” he told HAT. Another new use he explained is the use of “high oleic oil in asphalt as an additive to make asphalt last longer.”
Farney said the asphalt project looks very promising.
“They have a test track that they’ve laid down and made ten years’ worth of traffic on it currently, and it’s holding up awesome according to what I’m hearing, and doing better than just regular asphalt.”
If the high-oleic soybean oil-based products take off, there will need to be enough growers who plant the high-oleic beans to meet demand. Parts of Indiana have good adoption of high oleic, but Mark Seib from Posey County in far southwestern Indiana, and another USB director, says they’re still working at getting the market established there.
“Of course, anywhere you go with the high oleic it’s got to be to an elevator, refinery that is accepting that, and right now we haven’t come that far south yet,” Seib told HAT. “We’re hoping that does come because I would love to grow those beans and be able to be a part of that. That’s one of the things that we have going at USB, is that we’ve got the opportunity for the high oleic and just really pushing that market. We’re finding more and more things for it every day, so it’s a big win for us.”
Goodyear’s soy-based rubber technology is now available in Skechers footwear too. The United Soybean Board regularly collaborates with Goodyear on research to learn how to incorporate soy into its rubber technology and research has revealed that soybean oil can improve tire flexibility across temperatures and provide enhanced grip on road surfaces. Skechers utilized the same technology to deliver grip, stability and durability for select models of their running shoes, with plans to incorporate the rubber into more styles throughout 2020.
“This collaboration is an example of two trusted brands coming together to create a high-tech product that will truly benefit our consumer,” said Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers.
Today, there are more than 1,000 different soy-based products available, including everything from turf grass to machinery lubricants to asphalt. USB is committed to continuing its work to research, develop and expand new uses, including these tires and shoes, to build demand for U.S. soybean farmers.
“U.S. soybean growers are pleased to see this multiplier effect growing from their own collaboration with Goodyear through the soybean checkoff,” said USB Director Ralph Lott II, a USB director and soybean farmer from New York. “USB worked with Goodyear to support their innovation with U.S. soy that is now available in four lines of Goodyear tires. We’re enthusiastic that consumers have a new choice for performance as well as sustainability with U.S. soy in a range of Skechers footwear.”
Once just a byproduct, soybean oil is now a lucrative value driver for farmers, being used as a sustainable, environmentally friendly and functional replacement for petroleum in industrial products. Now, both Goodyear tires and Skechers shoes utilize soybean oil. In fact, Goodyear recently announced it will be increasing its use of soybean oil in 2020 by 25%, with even loftier goals for inclusion by 2040.
“Goodyear has always worked to create innovative products that provide consumers with high-performance tires, and now we’re using that same ingenuity to enable consumers to wear high-performance shoes,” said Christian Jurado, Goodyear’s global director of licensed products.
Skechers’ soy-based shoes are available in stores and online now in the Skechers GOrun collection. The brand shared plans to expand the range of styles and colors available through 2020, including branching out into trail, work and safety footwear categories for men, women and children. All models utilizing the soybean oil will be labeled as having Goodyear Performance Outsoles.
Goodyear’s soy-based tires are also available in the U.S. and Canada in several sizes and styles, including some of their top-performing tires: the Assurance® WeatherReady®, Eagle Exhilarate™, Eagle® Enforcer® All Weather® and the Assurance ComfortDrive®.