KANSAS CITY — High-oleic oils, though value-added and higher in price, extend shelf life, possibly saving money on a cost-in-use basis. Fortunately, high-oleic versions of soybean, canola and sunflower seed oils are available. Unfortunately, all have increased in price for various reasons.
Sunflower seed oil and its value-added variant high-oleic sunflower seed oil are relatively stable due to enhanced levels of oleic and linoleic acids, said Roger Daniels, vice president, research, development, innovation and quality at Stratas Foods, Memphis, Tenn. The oils enhance shelf life in uses such as spray oils, frying oils and as a blend component in nutritional oil products for the infant or adult use markets.
High-oleic sunflower seed oil is 82% monounsaturated fat and a good fit for plant-based products, savory snacks, sauces, salad dressings, marinades, savory spreads and baked foods, according to the National Sunflower Association, Mandan, ND. Sunflower crops also lessen soil erosion, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the association.
Since Ukraine’s national flower is the sunflower and the country is the leading global exporter of sunflower seed oil, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the Russia-Ukraine war has affected supply and price. Sunflower seed oil, Midwest was trading at $1.13 per lb on May 13, which was up from 83¢ a year ago, according to the USDA.
“The lack of availability of sunflower oil is especially worrying for savory snack brands who depend on this ingredient as changing to other ingredients will lead to higher price points, both from a business and a consumer perspective,” said Alice Popple, consumer analyst at GlobalData, London, a data and analytics company.
Companies may check out the availability of other high-oleic oils.
“One of the benefits of high-oleic acid-level oils is that they are effective in promoting shelf life in all current edible oil forms,” Mr. Daniels said. “As such with tightening of supply due to constraints in supply and rising prices, end users can look to other high-oleic oil options as an alternative. These are oils derived from high-oleic soybean and high-oleic canola.”
Consumer packaged goods manufacturers, in light of the supply situation, should work with fats and oils providers who have expertise in oil functionality along with market-sourcing connections, he added.
“Our approach is to look at the available options and then reconcile with the utility required,” he said. “That being said, high-oleic versions of soybean and canola and blends of high-oleic soybean/canola oils with standard commodity oils may serve in the interim until the full array of high-oleic oils is once again available with a higher degree of certainty.”
New soybean oil facilities
Soybean oil and canola oil, like sunflower seed oil, have risen in price. Soybean oil, Decatur was trading at 93¢ per lb on May 13, up from 77¢ a year ago, according to the USDA. Canola oil, Midwest was trading at $1.11 per lb, up from 95¢ a year ago.
Demand from the biofuel industry has tightened soybean oil supply, but biofuel mostly has taken away from US soybean oil exports, said Mac Marshall, vice president of market intelligence for the United Soybean Board, Chesterfield, Mo. In the year 2021-22, domestic use of soybean oil for food, feed and other industrial uses made up 53% of total use, a percentage point decline from 54% in 2020-21. Domestic use for biofuels jumped to 42% from 37% while exports fell to 5% from 9%. The United States still is a net exporter of soybean oil, Mr. Marshall said.
Meaningful increases in soybean oil supply should come, but it may take a while. Thirteen new plants that process soybean oil are set to become operational over the next three years, he said.
“They could be adding 20% to 30% of crush capacity relative to what we have (now),” he said.
A food ingredient manufacturer contracted with Calyxt, Inc., Roseville, Minn., to develop a soybean intended to produce an oil that could serve as a replacement for palm oil, said William F. Koschak, chief financial officer for Calyxt, in a May 5 earnings call.
“The project began in the fourth quarter of 2021 and remains on track for completion in the first quarter of 2024,” he said. “The food ingredient manufacturer is funding our development costs over the two-year term of the agreement and holds an option for future development and commercialization.”
Calyxt offers licenses for many of its gene-editing and breeding technologies in its patent portfolio, including the TALEN patent estate.
Indonesia’s palm oil ban
Mr. Koschak noted the government of Indonesia, the world’s leading producer of palm oil, banned palm oil exports in late April.
“We believe this development may drive further interest in additional palm oil alternatives and that Calyxt is particularly well-suited to bring forward solutions based upon our proprietary technology and expertise in plant-based synthetic biology,” he said.
Palm oil (RBD), ports was trading at 81¢ per lb on May 13, up from 61¢ a year ago, according to the USDA.
“As manufacturers such as Mondelez have established a long-term relationship with the Indonesian government to source palm oil responsibly, this ban puts them back to square one,” said Ramsey Baghdadi, consumer analyst at GlobalData. “There will be a need to find suitable alternatives. However, these each come with their own challenges. Rapeseed oil, for instance, has limited supply, which has led prices to skyrocket.
“Going forward, fast-moving consumer goods companies need to be careful in choosing suitable alternatives. Due to a shortage of sunflower oil as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, a lot of companies were returning to palm oil. So Indonesia’s ban is another setback.”
Mr. Marshall said soybean oil has an advantage in that it may be sourced domestically.
“There unfortunately probably is going to be more of a collective emphasis on national food sovereignty and food security,” he said. “That’s not unique to any one country. I think a lot of countries are going to have that. Having domestic sourcing becomes that much more paramount.”
Innovation may lead to cost-savings in oils.
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the University of Malaya in Malaysia have developed a method to produce and extract plant-based oils from microalgae that could serve as an alternative to palm oil. Compared to palm oil, the oil derived from microalgae contains more polyunsaturated fats. The scientists added pyruvic acid to a solution with the algae Chromocloris zofingiensis and exposed the solution to ultraviolet (UV) light to stimulate photosynthesis.
Kemin Industries, Des Moines, Iowa, has developed a cost-savings indicator for Kemin Food Technologies – Asia customers in the frying industry that shows the benefits of using antioxidants to extend the shelf life of frying oil.
“On average, we found that effective adoption of antioxidants in vegetable oil can provide as much as 40% more frying cycles for frying oil and increase product shelf life by approximately 30%, which helps reduce the cost of using oil and ease pressure on the supply chain,” said Michelle Lim, president of Kemin Food Technologies – Asia.
Pak Group offers a Bellarise oil reducer system through its Bellarise brand. Oil may be reduced up to 50% in applications although certain recipes will show different results, said Cam Suarez-Bitar, director of marketing and public relations for Bellarise, Pasadena, Calif.
The oil reducer formulation involves wheat flour, soy flour and natural enzymes.
“Through the interaction between our custom enzymes and the soy flour we use in Bellarise oil reducer, it works by providing the same reaction yielded by oil or fat in a baking application,” Mr. Suarez-Bitar said. “As a result, the amount of oils and fats that commercial and industrial bakeries need to bake their best breads goes down. At the same time, production costs are cut and kept under control, since oil prices are highly volatile and can be unpredictable.”