The U.S. soybean market is facing a major change in the coming years with the need to cut trans fatty acids - or trans fats - out of foods. An important answer to the opportunity is to supply healthier varieties of soybean oil.
The oil represents a 17- to 18-billion-pound market each year in the United States, but the food industry has recognized a need to replace 7 to 8 billion pounds of oil that is partially hydrogenated. The hydrogenation process forms trans-fatty acids that scientists recognize as unhealthy.
"Farmers now have a great opportunity to grow varieties of soybeans that meet the overwhelming need of the food industry, and to profit at the same time," said QUALISOY chairman Jim Sutter.
Soybeans with a reduced amount of linolenic acid - low-lin soybeans - can meet this need for a healthier oil. Premiums available for low-lin beans range from 35 cents to $1. Low-lin varieties are available in 14 states, and this number is increasing every year.
The breakthrough of low-linolenic soybean oil will benefit the food industry and consumers, and could add an estimated $100 million per year to the value of soybean commodities. It is predicted that more than 1 billion pounds of low-linolenic oil could be available by 2007, according to QUALISOY, but that still does not meet the need of the food industry. Kellogg Company and Kentucky Fried Chicken are among the major food companies and restaurants that have already switched to low-lin oil.
Low-linolenic soybeans that currently meet QUALISOY quality standards include VISTIVE from Monsanto; Pioneer brand low-linolenic soybeans - which go by the name Treus; and Asoyia ultra-low-linolenic soybeans.