Targetting food processors keen to eliminate trans fats and reduce saturated fat content from their food formulations, the new oil will not require hydrogenation, state the two firms, that have combined their technologies on seed development to create the new oil.
Trans fatty acids (TFAs) are formed when liquid vegetable oils go through a chemical process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenated vegetable fat is used by food processors because it is solid at room temperature and has a longer shelf life.
But mounting evidence suggests the TFAs raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, causing the arteries to become more rigid and clogged. An increase in LDL cholesterol levels can lead to heart disease.
Pushing demand for alternatives, incoming rules in the US mean that by 1 January 2006 all trans fats in food products will have to be labelled on the nutritional panel. Europe has yet to introduce a similar rule, but consumer organisations are pressing for such transparency and food makers are feeling market pressure to slice TFAs from their products.
In 2003 Denmark became the first country in the world to introduce restrictions on the use of industrially produced trans fatty acids. Oils and fat are now forbidden on the Danish market if they contain trans fatty acids exceeding 2 per cent.
"Bayer CropScience will provide its InVigor line of hybrid rapeseed high-yielding seed and Cargill, the 'desirable oil traits' for producing high oleic rapeseed oil," says a spokesperson at Bayer CropScience.
Commenting to FoodNavigator.com, the spokesperson adds that Cargill, not Bayer, will bring the oil to market, supplying the seed to its contract growers.
The two companies are aiming to launch their new speciality oil seed onto the market by 2007.
Cargill and Bayer CropScience will join the battle for market share in the growing zero trans fats oil marketplace. Last year US firms Dow AgroSciences, Bunge and DuPont all launched their various brands of zero or low trans oil, joining ADM's NovoLipid, in a bid to tackle the growing market for alternatives to partially hydrogenated oils used by food makers in raft of food formulations.
Today, soybean and palm oil combined account for over half of all oil consumed in the world. But the third largest vegetable oil crop, rape seed oil, reached 15 million tons last year and is currently trading at about $666 (€509) a ton.
Prices are bullish on a tighter balance sheet. "Rape oil prices have been rising on the back of increasing demand from food and biodiesel industries, despite record global supplies," says Josh Dadd, an economist at the UK's Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA).
Supplies for a range of vegetable oils used extensively by the food industry are slated to rise for 2004/05 year on stronger yields for peanuts, soybeans and rape seed oil, building up global stocks to about 390.5 million tons.
Rape seed, soybeans and peanuts are all experiencing strong market growth as food makers continue to turn away from animal fats in favour of vegetable alternatives.
By 2008 analysts Business Communications Company predict these key vegetable edible oils will account for 69.9 per cent of the US market.