Anytime a new product or service creates value for an entire industry, the odds of it succeeding increase exponentially. That’s why high oleic soybeans are so exciting for the Ohio soybean industry – because they impact more people than just farmers. These varieties have benefits that extend to farmers, processors, food companies and industrial markets.
Commodity soybean oil lost a significant amount of market share due to trans-fat labeling, but high oleic soybean oil avoids trans fats because it doesn’t need partial hydrogenation. High oleic soybeans can help increase soybean oil demand and reclaim lost markets for farmers, but the value doesn’t stop there.
Benefits for Farmers
Farmers face crop decisions each year with the profitability of their businesses in mind. With high oleic soybeans, farmers see proven performance alongside higher value, which adds up to profit opportunities.
Dale Profit, a soybean farmer from Van Wert, Ohio and a volunteer director for the United Soybean Board and Ohio Soybean Council, is a big supporter of high oleic soybean adoption because it brings profitability for the entire industry. He says farmers will directly feel the benefits of increased demand because the oil from high oleic soybean varieties offers an improved option for many food and industrial users. This strong market demand will help farmers recapture lost soybean oil markets.
“High oleic soybeans are expanding the possibilities for soybean farmers,” says Profit. “I have been pleased with the performance of my high oleic soybeans too.”
High oleic soybean varieties pack a performance punch because they yield on par with current varieties and come with the agronomic and disease packages farmers expect. By combining that performance with increased demand and adding a processor-paid incentive, high oleic soybeans result in a major opportunity for U.S. soybean farmers.
Benefits for Processors
Oil processors are also excited about the opportunities with high oleic soybean oil as it allows them to expand their oil portfolio to serve even more customers. Processors need to provide their oil customers, typically large and mid-sized food companies, with products that fit their needs. High oleic soybean oil will provide these customers with an oil that has an enhanced nutritional profile and increased heat stability which are qualities customers desire.
“Soybean usage for food has diminished in the United States with the declining use of partial hydrogenation” says Don Wyss, Commercial Manager with Bunge. “High oleic soybeans offer processors a product that allows us to run our crushing plants and introduce a new soy oil which helps fill in the gap left by the absence of partially hydrogenated oils.”
Additionally, most oil processors and other delivery locations can handle high oleic soybeans within their current infrastructure. Because high oleic soybeans have easier handling procedures for both farmers and processors, they offer a nice value-add oil for processors to include in their portfolio.
Benefits for Food Companies
Food companies are ready to use soybean oil that has superior oil functionality and stability. Because U.S. consumers prefer the neutral taste of soybean oil, many food companies and restaurants used soybean oil in the past but switched to other oils to comply with regulatory pressure. They are comfortable with soybean oil and the resulting products, so high oleic soybean oil is exciting for them.
“High oleic soybean oil is a liquid system that is easy to pour directly into the fryer,” says Wyss. “It’s high in heart healthy mono unsaturated fats and provides the great taste of soy that their customers have grown up with.”
High oleic soybean oil will compete with the oils currently being used, including canola, palm, sunflower and others, because the soy industry can provide a high volume of high oleic oil at a relatively low cost. Additionally, the companies will be able to source the oil from the United States, which can eliminate a number of transportation problems.
“High oleic soybean oil is a premium high stability product,” says John Jansen, Senior VP of Product Management with Bunge. “It will fry two or three times longer with proper filtering when compared to a commodity soybean oil. The frying kettle also cleans easier and develops less residue buildup because of the reduction in 18:2 fatty acids.”
Benefits for Industrial Markets
Some of the same properties that make high oleic soybean oil attractive to food companies make it attractive to industrial-products manufacturers as well. High oleic soybean oil’s high-heat functionality and stability allows it to enter into markets that commodity soybean oil cannot. It can be used by industrial manufacturers to make synthetic motor oil, lubricants and many other items. High oleic soybean oil can compete with petroleum-based products on performance and price, as well as the added benefit of being renewable.
“High oleic soybean is a very stable oil naturally, it’s high mono content and lower saturated fat levels lead to longer life and a better pour point at colder temperatures,” says Jansen. “This leads to higher viscosity and better lubrication for hydraulic fluids, cutting oils and even engine oil.”
While the main market for high oleic soybeans will be the food industry, farmers are excited for soy to be able to further tap into this new market.
Realizing these Benefits
The entire soy value chain can see some very real benefits from high oleic soybeans. To capitalize on any one of these, farmers must first grow high oleic soybean varieties.
“If the industry reaches its 2023 goal, we will have simpler, improved oil that helps farmers, customers and processors—it’s a long industry chain that benefits,” concludes Profit.
To learn more about growing high oleic and raising profitability, farmers should reach out to their local seed rep or visit www.soyinnovation.com.