Dave Dzisiak said there is still room to increase the demand for high oleic oils but it is going to be a tougher slog from here on out.
Health Canada recently implemented a ban on partially hydrogenated oils, the largest source of industrially produced trans fats in foods.
To the casual observer that would seem to be a golden opportunity to expand the demand for high oleic oils as a replacement, but that is not the case.
“Unfortunately, it’s not going to drive a lot of additional demand,” said Dzisiak, commercial leader of grains and oils North America for Corteva Agriscience.
“You can kind of put a stake in the heart of a dead issue.”
That is because more than 90 percent of the changeover to high oleic oils from partially hydrogenated oils occurred many years ago following Health Canada’s 2005 decision to require trans fat labelling on food products.
“That drove a lot of the change and a lot of the conversion,” said Dzisiak. “There is not very much left to ban.”
Partially hydrogenated oils were introduced into the food industry as a replacement to butter. They added taste and texture and extended the shelf life of foods like cookies, pastries, doughnuts, muffins, snack foods and fries.
But they are also a source of trans fats that raise bad cholesterol levels, lower good cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.
Dzisiak said it is hard to find a replacement for partially hydrogenated oils in some products like icing and shortening and those are the ones that have held off on reformulating until an outright ban was in place.
The vast majority of partially hydrogenated oil use was in the United States and Canada and both countries have bans and have largely transitioned to high oleic oils.
“The easy work is done,” he said.
“That was good because that really helped the industry get established.”
Dzisiak said the sales job has become harder but there is still growth potential in the high oleic market.
“We still have really good advantages around longer fry life,” he said.
Dzisiak recently spoke to a customer who runs a large casino restaurant in the U.S. who switched away from regular commodity oil to Corteva’s Omega-9 canola oil and is saving $50,000 per year due to longer fry life.
Another new selling point is that on Nov. 19 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that oils containing high levels of oleic acid can now carry a qualified health claim.
The claim states that supportive, although non-conclusive, evidence suggests consuming 1.5 tablespoons of high oleic oils daily instead of oils higher in saturated fat can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
“Now you’ve got an additional story point about putting good fats into the diet,” said Dzisiak.
“That will really help with our messaging.”