Health-conscious consumers pushing demand for high oleic soybean oil
Recent studies show health-conscious consumers want high oleic soybean oil — and with seed decisions around the corner for farmers, this growing market demand may warrant a look at planting high oleic. The benefits associated with high oleic speak for themselves.
For Kevin Wilson, soy checkoff farmer-leader with the United Soybean Board (USB) and a farmer from Walton, Ind., the decision is simple. Farmers are turning to high oleic due to its premium, sustainable qualities while meeting the worldwide demand for soybean oil.
“Companies are looking into more sustainable products to use, and they are seeing an increase in benefits for growing high oleic,” Wilson said. “The confidence they have in U.S. farmers providing a reliable product is a major plus for U.S. Soy.”
Generally, farmers growing high oleic soybeans report that they yield on par with or better than their farm’s average — adding profitability and innovation. Wilson has grown high oleic soybeans for seven years on his farm and said he’s enjoyed success.
“The yields are consistent with the commodity soybeans, and high oleic doesn’t require much additional time spent preparing for planting or harvesting,” Wilson said. “It’s been a big win for us.”
High oleic soybeans add long-term value for all U.S. soybean farmers by providing a product that meets demand in new and existing markets for soy, such as food and industrial customers. High oleic soybean oil works even better than commodity soybean oil in high-heat situations, which expands markets for soybean oil in frying, baking and high-heat industrial uses. As health- and sustainability-conscious consumers increase demand for this oil, processors offer a premium to high oleic soybean farmers.
“A main benefit for high oleic farmers is the added premium for growing them. The last two years’ premiums have been $1.25 per bushel; and in the 2023 crop, they are around $2.20 per bushel,” Wilson explained. “The demand for high oleic soybean oil has started to take off as companies are realizing the many benefits.”
High oleic soybean acres topped 800,000 in 2022 but are expected to climb to 1.2 million in 2023. Farmers can capitalize on this demand by securing contracts now. Farmers can learn how to secure contracts for high oleic soybean production and the premiums that come with them by visiting unitedsoybean.org
“This is a great opportunity for farmers to add value to their land,” said John Motter, USB Past Chair and an Ohio farmer who started growing high oleic soybeans in 2011. “It’s an attractive way for a farmer to make additional revenue, ensuring reliability to meet customer demand and furthering the reputation of U.S. Soy.”
As farmers start to think about next season, Wilson recommends learning more to determine if high oleic soybeans are a viable option. “I suggest all farmers take a look around and see if high oleic will work for them,” Wilson said. “There are going to be a few more delivery options and maturities being added each year. For our farm, high oleic beans have put more dollars in our pockets.”
With demand for cooking oil that has a desirable fat profile, the food industry is expanding its use of high oleic soybean oil as an alternative to hydrogenated oils containing trans fats. As well as foodservice, there is demand for high oleic soybean oil in the nonfood sector, including synthetic motor oil, asphalt and other products as a renewable alternative to petroleum.
“With demand growing rapidly, planting high oleic is an excellent way to increase our bottom line,” said Wilson. “I don’t do anything differently in the growing season for high oleic soybeans than I do for commodity soybeans, which made the transition very easy.”