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(Jan. 10, 2017) DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto fully intend to regain the food oil market and they are off to a good start.
In 2016, the two companies had 450,000 acres planted to their two high oleic varieties — Plenish for Pioneer and Vistive for Monsanto.
But the soybean industry has set a high bar, and Pioneer and Monsanto have a long way to go.
The industry’s goal is for farmers to plant 18 million acres of high oleic soybeans by 2023.
On the way there, farmers are expected to plant 1 million acres this year.
If the 18 million-acre goal is reached, high oleic beans will be the fourth largest grain and oilseed crop in the nation, behind corn, commodity soybeans and wheat.
So what is it with high oleic?
Health-conscious consumers — and they abound in this country’s current cultural environment — expect foods with labels that say “0g trans fat.”
Food manufacturers and restaurants are transitioning to oils that can meet this demand without sacrificing performance — or the taste that keeps their customers coming back.
Farmers want a soybean with strong agronomics and increased demand.
Enter high oleic soybeans, with a healthier oil profile and increased oil stability, 0 grams of trans fat, and less saturated fat.
High oleic expands the market for soybean oil in frying and baking as well as high-heat industrial uses.
Supermarket brands want high oleic oil because it increases the shelf life of their products.
But there is a problem: It’s the European Union.
Canada has cleared the way for high oleic imports, but not the EU.
An industry official put it this way: “Right now, it’s a chicken-and-the-egg dilemma, food companies aren’t willing to convert until you have the oil in place; processors won’t produce the product until there’s demand.”
The EU must partner in the project to stabilize the essential demand, and industry officials express confidence that high oleic will win EU approval.
When that happens, when EU opens its arms and its ports to high oleic trade, industry officials are confident that the 18 million acres under tillage can be reached.
A final thought: There are, woven into the fabric of this agricultural adventure, some uncertain, perhaps frayed threads.
What of President-elect Donald Trump’s often stated opposition to foreign trade deals?
How will that play out? And what of the EU’s current — and indeed future — monetary policies?
And what of the EU itself? Can it remain intact through these troublesome and perilous times?
Such is the world we live in.