According to the company, low-linolenic soybeans will reduce the need for partial hydrogenation of soybean oil, helping food companies reduce the presence of trans fatty acids (trans fats) in their products.
The move, which follows the announcement of further collaboration with Monsanto, is designed to tap into an increasingly lucrative market.
According to ACNeilson, US sales of products already labeled 'no trans fat' increased 12 percent to $6.4 billion for the 52 weeks ended October 2, 2004, compared with the previous 52-week period.
Trans-fats have been negatively linked to raising blood cholesterol levels and promoting heart disease, and food companies have been looking for ways of reducing trans-fat content without affecting taste.
The pressure is certainly on food makers since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final ruling requiring food manufacturers to list trans fatty acids on the Nutrition Facts panel of conventional foods and some dietary supplements. Beginning 1 January 2006, the FDA will require all food companies to label the amount of trans-fat in their products allowing consumers to have additional information to make healthier food choices that could lower their intake of trans fat as part of a heart-healthy diet.
Cargill believes that the Vistive product will therefore appeal to food makers keen not to get left behind as consumers and regulators drive through nutritional changes.
Demand for soy has increased on the back of such changing nutritional patterns. Market analyst Freedonia recently estimated that demand in the US will increase by 5.1 percent annually over the next five years.
For, its part, Cargill has identified up to 150,000 acres of Vistive soybean production the 2006 growing season. Cargill says it will pay a premium to producers who grow the soybeans under contract, then it will crush and sell the processed soybean oil to food companies.
Soy is the world's largest oil crop, and soybean oil represented the lion's share of the overall market in 2004 (54 percent).