High Oleic Soybeans

Updated: November 7, 2018

Current Situation

Launched commercially in 2012, farmers currently grow high oleic soybeans in 13 states throughout the U.S. soybean belt.

High oleic varieties offer 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 for a sustainable, consistent supply of high oleic oil. Pioneer and Bayer 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 meets the needs of many food industry customers as a trans-fat-free replacement for partially hydrogenated oil, helping farmers regain lost markets and expand into additional markets.

Why the Checkoff Cares

High oleic soybeans position the U.S. soy industry into the future and contribute to greater farmer profitability. With a versatile oil that provides a sustainable, highly stable, U.S.-grown product for the food industry and additional industrial users, high oleic soybeans will protect and grow demand. Moreover, it adds demand from customers looking for an oil that performs under high-heat conditions while raising demand for all soybeans. This benefits 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 dedicated 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. High oleic yield is competitive with conventional seed 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 650,000 acres — Final planted high oleic soybean acreage for 2017.
  • 13 states — Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia farmers can grow high oleic soybeans in select areas in 2018.
  • 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, 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.
  • 16 million planted acres — That’s the soybean industry’s goal for high oleic soybeans.
  • Fourth-largest crop — If the industry reaches 16 million acres, high oleic soybeans will be the fourth-largest grain and oilseed crop in the United States, behind corn, soybeans and wheat.

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