The rise of specialty canola oil

Researchers have succeeded in genetically optimizing canola plants to make them capable of producing unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids can lower the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.  |  File photo

Keep the canola coming.

In 2014 the Canola Council of Canada unveiled its plans to produce 26 million tonnes of canola annually and achieve an average yield of 52 bushels per acre by 2025.

The yield figure and tonnage grabbed most of the attention, but the council also has lofty plans for specialty canola oil.

As of 2013, 15 percent of acres in Canada were dedicated to high oleic and specialty canola oil. By 2025, the canola council is expecting that high oleic and specialty oil will attract 33 percent of canola acres.

That’s a massive target because one-third would represent about seven million acres.

The figure seems high, but recent news suggests the industry may get close to the goal.

Other stories in the Western Canola & Pulse Crops Producer:

In October, Cargill launched Latitude canola. It’s a variety rich in omega-3 fatty acids that will compete with fish oil in the aquaculture industry.

“Using plant-based omega-3s in aquafeed, instead of relying on fish oil from over-farmed oceans … Latitude will help relieve some of the pressure on wild caught fish, while delivering a reliable Omega-3 product to aquafeed manufacturers,” said Willie Loh, vice-president of market development for Cargill’s global edible oils business in North America.

Feeding trials in Chile have shown that Latitude canola can replace 100 percent of fish oil in salmon feed with “no effect on fish growth rates … or omega-3 content” in the salmon.

Cargill is hoping that following regulatory approval, fish farms in Canada and Chile will be able to purchase Latitude canola by 2020.

Speciality canola oil for fish farms will be a logistical challenge for Cargill and other segments of the canola value chain. Latitude canola must be segregated from other canola, and Cargill may have to build small, specialized crush plants that “take into account factors such as exposure to light and air, which causes the oil to oxidize and go rotten,” the Western Producer reported in January 2017.

There will be obstacles, but displacing fish oil could be a lucrative market. Grand View Research has forecasted that the global fish oil market will grow to US$4.08 billion by 2022, up from $2.25 billion in 2014.

Nuseed has also been working on an omega-3 canola hybrid for the fish farm market, called Aquaterra. On its website, Nuseed states that 2.47 acres of Aquaterra canola has the potential to provide a volume of omega-3 oil that would replace 10,000 kilograms of fish.

Besides fish farms, consumer demands for clean labels and healthy foods should boost demand for specialty canola oil.

Cargill has developed and introduced a canola variety that’s low in saturated fat.

Victory canola contains 4.5 saturated fat, and a number of hybrids, including clubroot-resistant varieties and Clearfield tolerance, are now available to growers.

“That is a 35 percent reduction in saturated fat, so if a manufacturer wants to differentiate themselves … that allows them to clean up their labels by lowering the amount of saturated fat they put on the finished product,” said John Satumba, North America research and development leader for global edible oils with Cargill.

Unsaturated, or good fats, are available in three different forms: omega-3, -6 and -9.

Dow Agro-Sciences, now known as Corteva Agriscience, has been contracting and marketing omega-9 canola and canola oil for years. Omega-9 canola is already grown on 1.5 million acres in Western Canada and North Dakota, according to

Demand for healthier oil may increase that acreage.

Looking ahead, Cargill and ingredient firms continue to monitor consumer trends so that they’re prepared for future expectations around vegetable oil.

“Making sure you have the right products is not an easy thing, (but) Cargill has deep market insights and research that allows us to make products that (fill) those particular gaps,” Satumba said.

“Ultra-low levels of saturated fat content — we believe our consumers will continue to ask for that … and this trend around people wanting to understand where their ingredients are coming from.”


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