High Oleic Soybeans

Updated: February 20, 2017

Current Situation

High oleic soybeans have been grown commercially in the United States for five seasons. Currently grown in 12 states throughout the soybean belt, these varieties allow farmers to offer end-use customers a U.S.-grown, highly functional oil without sacrificing performance. The soybean industry is working together to ramp up acreage of high oleic soybean varieties to meet growing needs with a sustainable, consistent supply of high oleic oil. DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto are currently breeding varieties to be available in maturity groups I-V by 2020.

The 2015 announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to phase out partially hydrogenated oils added to the urgency to increase production of high oleic soybeans. The decision could mean an additional 1.5 billion pounds of lost soybean oil demand from U.S. food companies. Farmers previously lost 4 billion pounds of annual soybean demand due to trans-fat labeling. High oleic soybean oil can meet the needs of many users as a trans-fat-free replacement for partially hydrogenated oil, helping farmers regain some of that lost market and expand into additional markets.

Why the Checkoff Cares

The soy checkoff views high oleic soy as an opportunity to position the U.S. soy industry into the future and add to farmer profitability. The oil provides a highly stable, U.S.-grown oil for the food industry and additional industrial users. High oleic soybeans will protect and grow current markets while adding additional demand from customers looking for an oil that performs under high-heat conditions. The added demand from high oleic soybeans will raise demand for all soybeans, benefitting all U.S. soybean farmers, including those who don’t grow high oleic. The success of high oleic soy hinges on timely farmer adoption of the varieties and the demand commitment from end users. The soy checkoff is committed to simultaneously building supply and demand for high oleic soy.

Key Points

  • Performance: High oleic soybean varieties are packed with the same agronomic traits and performance that farmers expect from their traditional soybean varieties. Farmers continue to see high oleic yield competitively in their fields year after year.
  • Profitability: In down market times, the modest premium paid for high oleic soybeans becomes even more attractive for farmers to increase their on-farm profitability.
  • Demand: High oleic expands markets for soybean oil demand in frying and baking, as well as high-heat industrial uses. It doesn’t take away demand for commodity soybean oil, which still meets the needs of many food and industrial customers.

Facts & Figures

  • Approximately 450,000 acres – Final planted high oleic soybean acreage for 2016. The acreage is expected to rapidly increase following the global regulatory approvals that are expected to come in the near future. (QUALISOY)
  • 12 states – Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia farmers can grow high oleic soybeans in select areas in 2017.
  • 2.0-4.2 – The varieties available on the market in 2016 ranged from 2.0 to 4.2 maturity groups. The maturity zones are expected to expand to 0 to 5 by 2023.
  • The Processors – ADM, AGP, Bunge, Perdue Agribusiness and Zeeland Farm Services crush high oleic soybeans and also refine and market the oil to foodservice operators, food manufacturers and non-food industrial users.
  • 18 million planted acres – That’s the soybean industry’s goal for high oleic soybeans. (QUALISOY)
  • Fourth-largest crop – If the industry reaches 18 million acres, high oleic soybeans will be the fourth-largest grain and oilseed crop in the United States, behind corn, soybeans and wheat. (USDA NASS)

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