News Story

High Oleic Premium Opportunities Build

JOHNSTON, Iowa (DTN) -- High-oleic soybean acres are expected to increase in the coming years to provide more farmers the chance to cash in on premium opportunities, which can be more than $2 per bushel.

Demand is on the rise for the healthier cooking oil made from high oleic soybeans, according to representatives from Corteva Agriscience and Benson Hill, whose companies sell that oil.

High oleic soybean oil also has expanding industrial uses, such as being used as a substitute for petroleum in motor oil, tires, asphalt and other products.

Roger Theisen, marketing manager for Corteva's Plenish high oleic soybeans, believes a high oleic "oil boom" is coming.

"The food industry is faced with consumers that look a lot different than 10 years ago (when Plenish was introduced) ... and 18 months ago pre-COVID," Theisen said during Corteva's recent summer media day at its Johnston, Iowa, campus. "COVID made us more aware of a lot of things. Part of that is what we are putting in our bodies."

High oleic soybean oil contains lower saturated fat and three times the amount of beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids, compared to many conventional vegetable oils, which benefit heart health. It extends the shelf life of baked products and has a clean, neutral taste.

Another benefit of high oleic oil is extended fry life. It performs longer than standard vegetable oils in high temperatures because of the heat and oxidative stability of the oil. The oil is mostly used by food service and manufacturing sectors.

About 600,000 acres of high oleic soybeans were planted nationally this year, up 100,000 acres from 2019, according to United Soybean Board spokesman Paul Murphy-Spooner. The projection for 2022 is 1 million acres.

PLENISH UPDATE

Fifteen varieties of Pioneer brand Plenish Roundup Ready 1 soybeans accounted for most of the 2020 high oleic plantings, according to Theisen. He expects acres to continue to rise, especially once Plenish soybeans contain the Enlist E3 herbicide-tolerant trait, which allows soybeans to tolerate 2, 4-D choline, glyphosate and glufosinate. By 2025, the E3 trait is expected to be widely available.

Plenish premiums range from 50 to 75 cents per bushel this year, depending on delivery location and processor. The Plenish supply chain has 62 delivery locations in most soybean-growing states and five processors. The identity-preserved soybeans may need to be stored on-farm and delivered when needed, which is part of the premium.

"If I can make 75 cents extra per bushel with 70-bushel-per-acre beans, and whether soybeans are $8 per bushel or $15 per bushel, I am going to take advantage of that opportunity," Theisen said.

Theisen expects 2022 program details to be released in early August, which will include estimated contract acres, possible changes in the premium structure and potential new delivery points.

Find out more about Plenish and contract opportunities at www.pioneer.com/plenish.

BENSON HILL UPDATE

Benson Hill CEO Matt Crisp agreed with Theisen's assessment that COVID-19, in some ways, will be a boon for specialty, identity-preserved soybeans and associated products. The food tech company, based in St. Louis, has more than 14 eMerge varieties of non-GMO high oleic, low linolenic soybeans, 11 of which are being used in the 2021 ingredient program, that allows the company to be capable to make its own Veri brand high oleic cooking oil.

Benson Hill acquired the assets of Schillinger Genetics, also known as eMerge Genetics.

Crisp said past and present supply chain issues associated with COVID-19 have food companies and consumers wanting food that's local and traceable back to the farm.

"More domestic production of soybeans and ingredient materials is thought to be less risky by a lot of food companies," Crisp said. "There's (also) more interest in visibility back to where the crop is grown and who grows it."

Benson Hill contracted with farmers to grow approximately 70,000 acres of its proprietary soybean varieties this year. This includes high oleic, low linolenic; ultra-high protein (protein levels mostly exceeding 46% for human food ingredients); and low anti-nutrient (better feed digestibility) soybeans or varieties with a combination of those traits. The company contracted approximately 30,000 acres last year.

Benson Hill declined to provide an acreage breakdown.

Premiums to grow Benson Hill soybeans on contract range from $1.50 to more than $2.50 per bushel, depending on the variety, stacked traits and end use. Crisp said the company is looking to build its network of growers and contracted acres.

"We're projected another substantial increase in acreage (for 2022)," Crisp predicted. "In a lot of cases, we have significant or multiple value propositions from the same crop that allow us to share more value back to the grower. That's why we can afford to pay premiums that are quite attractive.

"We are very eager to add progressive, forward-thinking farmers to our network," he continued.

Find out more about Benson Hill and inquire about soybean growing contracts at www.bensonhill.com and www.bensonhillseeds.com.

Read a previous DTN story about high-oleic soybean production at www.dtnpf.com/agriculture/web/ag/news/article/2020/03/10/high-oleic-hopes.

Matthew Wilde can be reached at matt.wilde@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @progressivwilde

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