Arkansas edamame will soon find its way onto dinner tables of people around the world as American Vegetable Soybean and Edamame begins shipping its locally grown soybeans internationally.
The crop, originally grown in Asia, was introduced to the Natural State just two years ago. This year will be the third growing season locally.
The River Valley has the best soil for growing edamame, as it produces a much sweeter soybean, according to Raymond Chung, President of AVSE in Mulberry.
Chung said their Chinese customers are eager to try the American supply.
The quick success has increased the demand for local growers who want to get in on producing edamame, according to Chung. As a result, the company is in the process of expanding its plant by 50 percent which Chung says will be used to make products with export potential.
"The main product that we're going to be producing is a dried snack that we're now selling called 'Crunchamame,'" Chung said. "We are actually already exporting some of it to China, to Hong Kong, and we feel like there's potential for even more of that."
With the expansion of the plant, Chung said the company plans to hire an additional 100 people. Mulberry Mayor Gary Baxter said AVSE has helped the local economy.
"Not only adding jobs to our area, but the peripheral things that help with our trucking companies and other businesses that supply products to the edamame plant," said Baxter.Mulberry plans to host its first Edamame Festival on March 29th. There, people will be able to participate in a shelling contest, recipe contest and even an edamame-eating contest.