The trans fat kibosh could kick-start new soybean market prospects
Trans fat is on its way out of food. The new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandate could have a multibillion dollar impact—not to mention a multimillion acre opportunity for soybean producers.
To comply with FDA, companies will need to remove partially hydrogenated oils from food by June 2018. The food industry could incur a $6.2 billion bill during the next two decades from reformulating its products and substituting new ingredients. (This will be more than offset by $140 billion in lower spending on healthcare.)
For farmers, the trans fat ban could ignite new interest in soybeans with high oleic oil content.
“High oleic soybeans represent a key evolution in farmers’ ability to meet the needs of our customers,” says Wade Cowan, a Texas farmer and president of the American Soybean Association. “But we’ve emphasized to FDA all along that we need time to get the high oleic trait integrated into soybean varieties and approved in overseas markets so we can produce what the industry demands.”
Monsanto Company and DuPont Pioneer have each developed high oleic soybean brands that are in limited production. Russ Sanders, director of food and industry markets for DuPont Pioneer, says 200,000 acres were planted to Plenish high oleic soybeans this crop season.
“We hope to more than double every year for the foreseeable future,” he says. Sanders estimates up to 18 million acres of high oleic soybeans are possible as demand ramps up.
“It’s exciting to rethink a crop that is mostly regarded for its protein content,” says Norm Sissons, Monsanto soybean product management lead.
“The oil component of soybeans is something we can continue to improve,” he adds. “What’s been a byproduct can now be a big opportunity for farmers and consumers.”
High oleic oil soybeans are bred for several components, such as nutritional content, stability during cooking and frying, as well as flavor profile. That, plus a positive sustainability story, could give high oleic soybeans an edge over competitors such as palm oil, which is higher in saturated fat.