Sunflower oil
Food companies need to choose a source of high-oleic oils and how to promote them.

High-oleic oils are not partially hydrogenated, a health plus, and they offer functional benefits, such as adding shelf life to products. Oils high in oleic acid content may be sourced from canola, sunflower seed and new varieties of soybeans. Olives, safflower and avocadoes are potential sources, too. The oils may be promoted for omega-9 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats.

“This goes for all vegetable oils that are high in oleic fatty acids, but they tend to be more resistant to oxidation, which leads to higher process oil stability, smoke point and product shelf life, less build-up in the process, perceived nutritional benefits for diets high in monounsaturated fats (oleic acid),” said Rick Cummisford, director of quality for Columbus Vegetable Oils, Des Plaines, Ill.

Several options exist then when sourcing and promoting high-oleic oils in food products.

Dow AgroSciences, L.L.C., Indianapolis, pointed to consumer surveys as reasons why the company likes to promote the omega-9 fatty acid found in oils it sources from canola and sunflower. Dow AgroSciences in a Nov. 6 webinar presented the findings from surveys it conducted this year.

A survey question asked 1,000 adults to rank 12 specific types of fat as either extremely healthful, somewhat healthful, neither healthful nor unhealthful, not very healthful, not at all healthful, or unaware. Omega-9 fatty acids came in third at 23% extremely healthful and 24% somewhat healthful, trailing omega-3 fatty acids (37% extremely healthful and 31% somewhat healthful) and omega-6 fatty acids (25% extremely healthful and 27% somewhat healthful).

Omega-9 fatty acids are oleic acids and also monounsaturated fats. In the Dow AgroSciences’ survey, monounsaturated fats had percentages of 4% for extremely healthful and 13% for somewhat healthful, showing consumers probably are more familiar with the term omega-9 fatty acids.

Dow AgroSciences said its omega-9 fatty acid oils sourced from canola are 74% oleic acid, which compares to 61% for commodity canola oil. Advanced plant breeding allows Dow AgroSciences to minimize the effect of weather and climate on the oil’s quality. Dow AgroScience’s omega-9 fatty acid canola and sunflower oils are sourced from Nexera seeds. The Nexera fatty acid profile over the canola crop years 2009 to 2013 ranged from 74.7% oleic acid to 75.9% oleic acid.

Omega-9 fatty acid oils from Nexera canola and sunflower seeds offer a light, clean taste and superior performance, according to Dow AgroSciences.

New varieties of soybeans are more than 75% oleic acid. Supply is growing. Qualisoy, an independent, third-party collaboration among the soybean industry, estimates supply of high-oleic soybean oil should reach 90 million lbs this year. Qualisoy estimates 9.3 billion lbs of high-oleic soybean oil will be available in 2024, said Richard Galloway, an oils expert with Qualisoy.

“So far they look pretty good against other high-oleic oils,” Mr. Cummisford said. “Problem is, they are still too limited in availability to meet the potential demands for other oils. This was the same for the high-oleic canola oil varieties that emerged 5 to 10 years ago. These became more commercially viable once sufficient acreage had been planted, and now supply is available.”

Besides sunflower, canola and soybean, Mr. Cummisford said high-oleic oils also may be sourced from olive, safflower and avocado.

Sunflower oil has a potential marketing advantage in that it is non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O., he said.

“This product can even be grown and processed under organic certification as well,” Mr. Cummisford said. “Only safflower and olive oils are available to make similar claims, depending on the programs.”

Archer Daniels Midland Co., Chicago, has worked with high-oleic soybean oil, high-oleic canola oil and mid-oleic sunflower oil as liquid oil options for a variety of applications, said Tom Tiffany, senior technical sales manager for ADM Oils.

“R.&D. work continues on the use of these high-oleic oils in blends with palm oil and palm oil fractions and as well in enzymatic interesterification with fully hydrogenated vegetable oils or palm fractions,” he said.

High-oleic oils provide frying stability for food service or quick-service operations, he added.

“With increased oxidative stability, these oils do not degrade as quickly as other, more polyunsaturated oils,” he said. “Thus, flavor quality and fry life are maintained. In many cases, these high-oleic oils are excellent replacements for phos
(partially hydrogenated oils) for a variety of applications where oxidative stability is needed.”

Minneapolis-based Cargill this year completed its seed innovation center in Fort Collins, Colo. It will serve as the center of Cargill’s specialty canola hybrid development.

“Oleic acid content is definitely a part of our work at the Cargill seed innovation facility in Fort Collins, Colo., but it’s not the sole focus,” said Kyle Marinkovich, assistant vice-president of marketing for Cargill Specialty Seeds & Oils. “We look at the total fatty acid profile, of which oleic is just one component. Our work for food service and food manufacturing customers is about optimizing the total fatty acid profile to meet their needs now and in the future. We’re doing this in areas such as longer product shelf life, improved food flavor and lower saturated fats.”

Clear Valley 80 specialty canola oil is 80% oleic acid.

“But our work is really about finding the right fit for our customers,” Mr. Marinkovich said. “It’s again about balancing the fatty acid profile of the finished oil.”

He gave the example of frying, where lower-linolenic acid is just as important as high-oleic acid.

“The key is finding the right balance of fatty acids in order to provide the best fried food flavor with the longest possible fry life,” Mr. Marinkovich said.

Bunge uses proprietary non-lipid ingredients, blending and crystallization processes (triacylglycerols mismatch) to reduce saturated fat levels by more than 40% in all-purpose and emulsified shortening. Bunge has used high-oleic canola oil in the shortenings, and high-oleic soybean oil may be used, too.