Growth in the vegetable oil industry

FROM THE CEO'S DESK

Barry Senft, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario

GRAIN FARMERS OF ONTARIO has been active with the Vegetable Oil Industry of Canada (VOIC) organization this year and there have been some really positive accomplishments in the edible oil industry recently I would like to share.

As noted in a recent press release, Canada’s canola and soybean based vegetable oil industry is thriving as it meets escalating domestic and international demand for healthful vegetable oil.  In the twelve months ending July 2012, Canada’s growers and processors produced a record 3.4 million tonnes of canola and soybean oils, more than doubling the production of 2005. Annually, about 600,000 tonnes of this production is consumed by Canadians either as grocery store items or foodservice products.

There is also a growing export demand for Canada’s vegetable oils, which include a significant amount of soybean oil. In the twelve months ending July 2012, 2.8 million tonnes of Canadian vegetable oil was exported with the US  and China accounting for 2.4 million tonnes of this demand. Since 2007, US imports of Canadian vegetable oil have increased 100 percent, while China’s have increased more than 300 percent.

On the value-added front, over the last few years the vegetable oil industry has successfully managed a major societal transition away from the use of partial-hydrogenation of vegetable oil to minimize the level of trans fatty acids from Canadian food products. The industry continues to move in this healthier direction as trait modified canola and soybeans are introduced that yield vegetable oils with enhanced functional and nutritional attributes including greater stability at high temperatures, longer shelf life and no trans fat.

A major recent accomplishment of VOIC has been the introduction of a new
on-package health claim that was developed at the University of Guelph and approved by Health Canada, advising consumers to replace dietary sources of saturated fat with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from vegetable oil to lower cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. According to Statistics Canada, over 40 percent of Canadians have high cholesterol. We believe the health claim will go a long way toward reducing saturated fat in the Canadian diet.

VOIC is a national not-for-profit industry group representing 70,000 oilseed growers across Canada, seed developers, oilseed processors and suppliers of fats and oils to the food industry, and makers of oilseed-based food products such as margarine, shortening, cooking oil, salad dressing, mayonnaise and dessert topping. In 2011-2012, the vegetable oil industry, including seed developers, growers, processors and consumer product makers, had a combined direct economic impact of $7.5 billion in Canada. Canadian Canola Growers Association and Grain Farmers of Ontario are the two groups representing Canadian oilseed farmers within VOIC. •

About Barry Senft 62 Articles
CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario