It may be easy to explain why supply of high-oleic oil continues to increase and how that increase may benefit the grain-based foods industry. High-oleic oils offer stability, work well in blends and take the place of other less desirable oils.

“If one fatty acid increases in per cent of the total oil composition, one or more fatty acids are subsequently reduced,” said Roger Daniels, director of R.&D. for Bunge North America and based in Bradley, Ill. “In the case of high-oleic oils, linolenic and linoleic fatty acid levels are reduced while saturated fatty acids remain comparable to traditional soybean oil.”

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans released in January recommends people consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Grain-based foods have their share of saturated fats. According to an NHANES 2005-06 report on sources of saturated fat in the diets of the U.S. population age 2 and older, pizza accounted for 5.9% and grain-based desserts accounted for 5.8%. Other grain-based food categories included tortillas, burritos and tacos (4.1%) and pasta and side dishes (3.7%).

Thus, reasons exist to use high-oleic oils, which may be used in oil and shortening blends, Mr. Daniels said.

“Specifically, a high-oleic liquid oil blended with a hard stock followed by the process of crystallization yields a shortening that functions to impart desired structure in the finished product with an oxidative stable property that remains neutral in flavor and lets the flavor goodness of the product come through,” he said.

For example, AarhusKarlshamn, which has a U.S. office in Port Newark, N.J., offers an EsSence line of bakery shortenings that are based on a blend of liquid oil choice and a proprietary hardstock derived from palm and palm kernel oils. EsSence brand shortenings are free of trans fat, non-hydrogenated and low in saturated fats.

“When used alone, high-oleic oils are primarily used for deep fat frying or as the flavor or minor additives carrier in spray oil applications,” Mr. Daniels said. “Due to the oxidatively enhanced property afforded by an elevated high-oleic fatty acid level which is typically greater than 70%, the oil remains neutral in taste and lets the flavor goodness of the food product come through.”

Sunflowerseeds with a higher percentage of oleic acid came into prominence in the 1990s and led to NuSun brand high-oleic sunflower oil. In recent years, canola oil supply has continued to increase, which means more high-oleic canola oil. Finally, high-oleic soybean oil may enter the commercial market as soon as 2012.

“A number of high-oleic oil varieties such as canola and sunflower have been available commercially for several years,” Mr. Daniels said. “Soybean oil with elevated levels of oleic acid is the next addition to the high-oleic oil club.”

Willie Loh, vice-president of marketing for Cargill Oils and Shortenings, added, “The markets for high-oleic canola and sunflower oils have steadily increased as more food companies focus on reducing system cost and increasing product quality. At the same time, other output trait oils have declined in supply availability. Cargill expects to offer high-oleic soybean oil when it is commercialized.”

New soybean oil emerges

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2010 approved the Plenish high-oleic soybean trait from Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, for cultivation in the United States. The oil from Plenish soybeans contains oleic acid content of more than 75% and has 20% less saturated fat than commodity soybean oil. Plenish high-oleic soybeans may be grown under contract in the United States in 2011 with commercialization anticipated in 2012.

Plenish high-oleic soybean oil will offer higher stability than other natural oils, said Robert Collette, president of the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils, when he spoke March 24 in Chicago at Wellness 11, an event run by the Institute of Food Technologists.

He used an oxygen stability index (OSI) as evidence of stability. Plenish should have an OSI of more than 25 hours at 110 degrees Celsius (230 degrees Fahrenheit), which would compare to 20 to 85 hours for partially hydrogenated soybean oil, 17 to 18 hours for high-oleic sunflowerseed oil, 12 to 17 hours for high-oleic canola oil, 10 to 11 hours for corn oil and 6 to 8 hours for low-linolenic soybean oil.

Mr. Collette listed other benefits of Plenish as longer fry life, reduced polymer build-up on equipment, extended shelf life, better flavor and consumer benefits such as 0 grams of trans fat and 20% less saturated fat than commodity soybean oil.

Mr. Collette also offered a glimpse of Vistive Gold low-saturate/high-oleic/low-linolenic soybeans, which are in a developmental phase. When they enter the market, they should offer the nutritional benefits of 0 grams of trans fat and the lowest saturated fat levels of soybean oils. Functional benefits should be flavor, stability and elimination of polymer build-up. Vistive Gold should be useful in frying, spray for crackers/snacks and baking blends.

Canola oil developments

Omega-9 fatty acid canola oil and sunflowerseed oil already is on the market thanks to the research and development efforts of Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis.

“Vegetable oil is a mixture of different fatty acids,” said David Dzisiak, commercial leader for grains and oils at Dow AgroSciences. “Some of the fatty acids are unstable, and some are more stable. Changing the ratio of fatty acids in oil changes functionality, and that is what we did.”

Dow AgroSciences first developed Nexera canola and sunflower seeds that have high-oleic content to create the omega-9 fatty acid canola oil and sunflowerseed oil.

“We get the plant to do that naturally, to make more of this one, less of that one,” Mr. Dzisiak said of the fatty acid content.

Dow AgroSciences increased the oleic acid content of canola to 75% from 62%. It decreased linolenic acid, which is unstable, to 2% from 10%. The adding and subtracting tripled the stability of the canola oil and gave it the functionality needed by the food industry, Mr. Dzisiak said.

Omega-9 fatty acid oils may cost more than other oils, but they also may last twice as long in frying applications, including potato chips and tortillas, he said. Donuts also are fried.

Mr. Dzisiak said deep fryers may operate 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Oil may break down through heat and oxygen and water coming through it. When the oil goes bad, it may generate off flavors and smoke while the oil turns dark and begins to affect the color of foods.

Other applications for omega-9 fatty acid oils include ready-to-eat cereal and cereal bars. Dow AgroSciences is doing more work with omega-9 fatty acid oils and different hard stocks, Mr. Dzisiak said.

Increasing the supply of omega-9 oils will depend on demand.

“We have really increased our supply in the last number of years, and it really kind of matches up with demand,” Mr. Dzisiak said. “It’s a really scalable oil. The more demand we have, the more we can produce.”

Cargill is developing another canola oil that will be low in saturated fat, Mr. Loh said.

“Like all previous Clear Valley products, Clear Valley low saturate canola oil will have the lowest level of saturated fat, high stability, clean flavor and no trans fat per serving,” he said.

Cargill will design the Clear Valley low saturate canola oil as a liquid oil useful as a spray oil or ingredient oil in grain-based food applications. Cargill would be able to develop a low-saturated shortening, Mr. Low added.

Sunflower started trend

The sunflower industry’s experience in high-oleic oil dates back more than 15 years. In 1995 members of the National Sunflower Association made the commitment to change the fatty acid structure of sunflower oil. Now, NuSun oil with oleic levels over 80% are available commercially.

NuSun oil has a neutral taste and is stable without hydrogenation. It has been shown to work in such applications as baked foods, spray coating oils for cereal, crackers and dried fruit.

Research on sunflowerseeds, canola oil and soybean oil is bringing about more healthy and more stable oils and fats. The effect of specific fats also may be under review. Palm oil has no trans fat, but is about 50% saturated fat.

Still, recent studies have taken a second look at how saturated fat may affect heart health. For example, a meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies involving 347,747 people was published last year in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It showed no significant evidence that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.

Consumers should be educated on the role and benefit of fat, said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, when speaking March 24 at Wellness 11 in Chicago. She said consumers should know about the types of fats needed to promote health, how new oils may fit into a healthy pattern, the technology behind new products, and how consumers may achieve a balanced approach to healthy eating.

Mr. Dzisiak of Dow AgroSciences said, “Fat is 35% of our diet and that is not going to change, and there is no need for it to change.”

The 35% of fat in the diet may be more healthy fat through the use of oils such as high-oleic oils.

“It’s hard to change what people eat, but we can make what they eat healthier,” Mr. Dzisiak said.

Time arrives for sustainable palm oil

The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (R.S.P.O.), a not-for-profit association, promotes the growth and use of sustainable palm oil products through global standards and engagement of stakeholders. The R.S.P.O.’s message has gained traction over the past year:

April 2010: AarhusKarlshamn, which has a U.S. office in Port Newark, N.J., secured its first shipment of sustainably produced palm oil destined for North America. Malaysian-based United Plantation produced the palm oil. The R.S.P.O. certified United Plantation to produce certified sustainable palm oil. The R.S.P.O. also audited and certified AAK’s refinery in New Jersey to import certified sustainable palm oil.

February 2011: Loders Croklaan, which has a North American office in Channahon, Ill., welcomed its first bulk vessel shipment of palm certified by the R.S.P.O. in North America.

March 2011: The Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., said it will purchase GreenPalm certificates, which financially benefit sustainable palm oil production, to cover 100% of its global palm oil use. Under the GreenPalm program endorsed by the R.S.P.O., manufacturers may offset their use of palm products by paying a producer for an equivalent amount produced sustainably. Kellogg said it intends to purchase sustainable palm oil once a segregated palm oil supply is available that is financially and logistically feasible.