At the end of a long day at the Ohio State Fair, John Motter bought a tray of French fries from one of the many vendors cooking with high oleic soy oil.
“The fries were golden,” said Motter, a soy checkoff farmer-leader from Hancock County. “Then he told me about how happy he was about the functionality of the oil, which was great to hear. The fries were delicious and had no discoloration.”
High oleic oil’s fry life, which is longer than standard cooking oil, is only one of the ways it provides an improved oil for food industry customers. It also has no trans fats, less saturated fats and a longer shelf life.
These advantages give farmers an opportunity to reclaim the share of the food-industry market they lost when trans-fat labeling was mandated. They also give farmers the chance to boost their profit potential by improving the long-term demand for soy oil.
“High oleic varieties will open up markets for us,” said Alan Kemper, former president of the American Soybean Association and soybean farmer from Indiana. “We’ve been losing our percentage of the edible oil market, but high oleic oil can help us regain our share.”
Motter, who grows high oleic varieties on his farm, agrees.
“Growing high oleic means meeting customer needs,” Motter said. “As soybean growers, we have to look beyond the elevator to understand and fulfill our customers’ needs.”
In 2011, 20 percent of the soybeans grown on Motter’s farm were high oleic varieties. Those varieties yielded so well, he said he grew 85 percent high oleic in 2012. This year, Motter plans to grow only high oleic soybeans.
“High oleic was my second-highest-yielding bean out of about five different varieties,” he said. “And the companies that are developing these varieties are using their best genetics. Farmers shouldn’t be resistant to high oleic because of perceptions of yield – they’re performing in my fields.”
Kemper had a similar experience growing high oleic on his farm last year.
“Agronomically, the high oleic soybeans were the same as our other varieties,” Kemper said. “They had good stands and grew well.”
High oleic soybeans followed an extensive research timeline before coming to market and offer the superior trait-and-disease packages farmers expect.
Both Kemper and Motter believe high oleic means big things for U.S. soy.
“The sooner we can get growers to go into full production, the sooner we can be successful,” Motter said. “We need growers to step up and use the products that meet customer needs.”