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High oleic soybeans look for market share

U.S. farmers planting high-oleic soybeans have their sights set on the canola market

bottles of soybean oil

The brochure for this type of soybeans would catch any Prairie farmer’s eye: “With high oleic soybeans, you can take back the market share you lost to canola and other crops.” It’s not meant for us — it’s for U.S. soybean growers.

Jay Myers, United Soybean Board director from Colfax, North Dakota said, “I don’t know if we want to take it away from canola. We’re losing market share right now, and we’d like to gain it back.”

To gain back market share in the heart-healthy oil market, soybean growers’ checkoff dollars have been directed toward developing high-oleic soybeans. Those soybeans are on the market now, and we can expect to see more of them. The United Soybean Board’s goal is to see 18 million acres of high-oleic soybeans in the ground in 2023. If they meet their targets, high-oleic soybeans would be 22 per cent of total U.S. soybean acres in 2023.

High-oleic varieties

Pioneer’s new Plenish brand of high-oleic soybeans were grown by farmers in 2014, under contract, on an identity-preserved basis.

doughnut fryer using soybean oil
Pioneer used its high-oleic soybean oil to fry up doughnuts at the Iowa Farm Progress Show.

Monsanto plans to have its Vestive Gold high-oleic soybeans available to seed in 2015. Both companies says their high-oleic soybeans yield similar to other varieties, and have good disease resistance packages.

Plenish soybeans are a Level III maturity bean. In the U.S., maturity levels start at Level I in North Dakota and go to Levels VI and VII in Florida. With our cooler, shorter summers, Western Canada needs beans with a shorter growing season than Level I. our soybeans are typically in the 0, 00 and 000 maturity range. The United Soybean Board’s published goal is to breed soybean varieties in Groups I to IV by 2023 — this would spread high-oleic soybean across the U.S., but would still keep them south of the Canadian Prairies.

There are both consumer and industrial uses for the high-oleic soybeans. Pioneer advertises that its Plenish oil has 20 per cent less saturated fat than traditional soybean oil, and oleic content of 75 per cent, “similar to olive oil.”

For the industrial market, Pioneer advertises that oil from these soybeans is superior to other vegetable oils. “High oleic soybean oil has exceptional heat and oxidative stability and can be used in high temperature and extended use applications where commercial soybean oil is not an option.”

The United Soybean Board is an organization run by volunteer farmer representatives, set up to oversee the spending of checkoff dollars. U.S. soybean growers contribute 0.5 per cent of the market price of their soybeans to the fund annually. The USB spends its money on research and market development, while the American Soybean Association focuses on state and national policy issues.

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