HIGH OLEIC SOYBEAN — A PREMIUM OIL MARKET COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITY
Soybean oil has historically been partially hydrogenated to enhance its oxidative stability in order to increase shelf life and improve frying characteristics. This process, however, creates trans-unsaturated fatty acids, or trans fats, which have been demonstrated to raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. High LDL and low HDL have been tied to increased risk for cardiovascular disease. The discovery that dietary trans fats increase the risk of several adverse health issues led the FDA to rule in 2003 that manufacturers must include trans-fat content information on the “Nutrition Facts” label of foods. In 2015, the FDA banned the addition of partially hydrogenated oils to food products in a phased approach, with the first phase effective June 2018.
Monounsaturated fats, such as oleic acid, have been linked to reducing LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and raising HDL cholesterols. Diets rich in monounsaturated acids are associated with lower fat mass and decreased blood pressure. High levels of oleic acids can be found in olive, canola, sunflower and safflower oils.
We developed a soybean trait that has produced oils with a fatty acid profile that contains 80% oleic acid, 20% less saturated fatty acids compared to commodity soybean oil and zero grams of trans fats per serving.
Oil produced from our High Oleic Soybean also has multiple desirable characteristics as an ingredient for the food industry. The high level of oleic acid in our soybean oil enhances oxidative stability compared to commodity oil. This eliminates the need for partial hydrogenation, and thus little to no trans fats are produced during oil production. Furthermore, our High Oleic Soybean Oil offers additional potential benefits, including reduced saturated fats, a threefold increase in fry-life, and reduced polymerization upon frying at high temperatures. Soybean oil is also neutral in flavor, odorless and colorless, and is therefore desired as a food ingredient because it has limited impact on the sensory characteristics of the final food product.
Plant breeders have developed soybean varieties that are adapted to distinct latitudes and agroclimatic conditions—which are referred to as maturity groups. We initially introduced our High Oleic Soybean in the northern United States on one variety within a particular maturity group range. Our High Oleic Soybean seed is sold directly to or through distributors to farmers. In 2018 we contracted more than 17,000 acres with nearly 80 growers in South Dakota and Minnesota to grow this High Oleic Soybean. The harvest of these High Oleic Soybean acres has been completed and we have taken delivery of a portion of the harvested crop. We have contracted with third parties to crush and refine our High Oleic Soybean on a commercial scale, enabling sales of High Oleic Soybean Oil and High Oleic Soybean Meal to customers. We commercialized our High Oleic Soybean product candidate in the first quarter of 2019.
We intend to launch new High Oleic Soybean varieties in 2020 and 2021. This will enable us to expand to other growing locations, and over time we expect to continue to add to this product portfolio by expanding into early, middle and late maturity groups. We believe this strategy will enable us to expand our supply chain through additional crushing plants within target growing regions and at the same time lower potential premiums and production costs as we introduce into the supply chain additional varieties that meet farmer needs.
- 80% oleic acid
- 20% less saturated fat
- Zero trans fats