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Demand Drives Growth of High Oleic Soybean Hybrids

For three years Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer have been working to develop 18 high oleic soybean varieties for maturity Group 1 through maturity Group 5. The expansion of the high-oleic germplasm to these maturity groups means that all soybean producers in the U.S. will soon have access to these high oleic varieties.

High oleic soybean oil is considered to be a much more ‘functional’ option for human consumption over traditional soybean oil. It is more stable, last longer for frying, has been shown to lengthen the shelf life of foods, and does not require hydrogenation for baking and frying, a process which transforms the fat in soybean oil to trans fat, which has been linked to high cholesterol.

"The trans fat issue led to market share loss." Greg Fujan, supply target area coordinator for the United Soybean Board (USB) tells Midwest Producer, and the widespread access to high oleic varieties could help farmers gain back some of this lost market.

But hurdles to industry-wide access remain. High oleic varieties would require separate transportation and storage by both producers and handlers, making elevators reluctant to accept them; limited available varieties make finding the right fit for all growing conditions a challenge, and complicated political roadblocks must be navigated to gain approval for imports to the EU and China.

Groups such as the USB are working to develop the high oleic market however, and hope to have 18 million acres of high oleic soybeans in cultivation by 2023.

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