High oleic soybean debut delayed again

Companies waiting for international approval

PHOENIX, Ariz. — The introduction of a crop that is supposed to reclaim the U.S. edible oil market from Canada’s high oleic canola has once again been delayed.

The commercial launch of high oleic soybeans, which was originally planned for last year, has been pushed back to next year at the earliest because of a lack of global approval for the trait.

“That is very frustrating because we’re such a science-based company, and we like to have approval systems that rely on the science and the facts,” said Sarah Vacek, soybean quality traits product launch manager with Monsanto.

The company is still awaiting approval of its Vistive Gold soybeans in the European Union and China.

Vacek said a small amount of Vistive Gold will be planted through the company’s Ground Breakers, on-farm trial program.

“It’s all tightly stewarded until we have those global approvals,” she said. “We would expect to have those global approvals in the calendar year 2015, so that we could commercially launch in 2016.”

DuPont Pioneer, the other developer of high oleic soybeans, recently received approval in China but is still awaiting the go-ahead from the EU.

“We’re hopeful that by the end of 2015 we’re going to be through that process,” said Russ Sanders, the company’s director of food and Industry markets for the Americas.

Pioneer expects growers to seed 200,000 to 300,000 acres of its Plenish soybeans in 2015.

Sanders said the U.S. soybean industry has lost the equivalent of 10 to 12 million acres of soybeans to competitors such as high oleic canola oil over the last seven to eight years.

“We expect to get much of that market back with this oil,” he said.

The United Soybean Board set a goal a few years ago for growers to plant 18 million acres of high oleic soybeans by 2023.

USB chair Bob Haselwood said that goal is still intact despite the two-year delay in the commercial launch of the product.

“I feel confident we’ll get to where we want to go,” he said.

“That will make high oleic soybeans the fourth largest crop in the U.S. behind corn, regular soybeans and wheat. Actually, if you break the classes of wheat down it would be the third largest crop.”

USB expects growers to plant 250,000 acres of high oleic soybeans this year, up from 170,000 acres last year.

Production is being carefully controlled. Soybean growers don’t want to end up in the same predicament that corn growers experienced when China began rejecting U.S. shipments in November 2013 for testing positive to Syngenta’s unapproved Agrisure Viptera variety.

Don Wyss, commercial manager for Bunge North America, said grower demand is high because of premiums of 40 to 50 cents per bushel.

“You take 60 bu. beans and put on a 50 cent premium, that’s another $30 per acre to the producer’s bottom line,” he said.

“That’s a big difference as we look at tight margins going forward over the next year or two.”

Bunge contracts Plenish beans with growers, crushes the crop and sells the oil into food and industrial markets. Wyss said there is strong demand from both markets.

Industrial uses include hydraulic lubricant in ocean vessels, cooling liquid in electrical transformers and motor oil for passenger vehicles.

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