New soybeans provide healthier oil

Smyrna farmer Jonathan Snow holds stalks of DuPont Pioneer Plenish brand soybeans Wednesday morning during a press event near his farm. Plenish beans create a more functional and healthier oil than regular soybeans. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Smyrna farmer Jonathan Snow holds stalks of DuPont Pioneer Plenish brand soybeans Wednesday morning during a press event near his farm. Plenish beans create a more functional and healthier oil than regular soybeans. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — The future of the cooking oil industry is here and growing right in our backyard –– DuPont Pioneer brand Plenish high oleic soybeans.

Development of a soybean that produces no trans-fat and is high in oleic acid began back in the 1990s, when studies reporting a correlation between trans fat intake and coronary heart disease risks were being released.

“DuPont scientists saw the soybean market was at risk and got to work developing a healthier seed,” Chris Hughes of Pioneer said.

DuPont Pioneer in Wilmington is the world’s leading developer of advanced plant genetics, providing high-quality seeds in more than 90 countries.
Plenish soybeans, created with biotechnology in Delaware, have now been grown in fields from the mid-Atlantic to the Midwest since 2011.

John Snow of Smyrna is just one of many local farmers growing Plenish beans, adding the brand to his operation in 2012.

“We started three years ago with about 100 acres as a test because we had some questions about the new seed, especially yield,” Mr. Snow said.

He said yield hasn’t been a problem. The Delaware Soybean Board holds an annual competition for highest yield, and last year’s winner was a Plenish farmer.

As the years have passed and Mr. Snow has seen consistent results with Plenish, now about 70 percent of his 800 acres of soybeans are Plenish. He said the incentives the company gives to farmers makes growing more Plenish brand soybeans attractive.

Plenish offers a $.50 per-bushel premium for farmers, increasing their profit on a value added product that will be in demand for years to come.

“Plenish beans don’t require any more work than any other beans and produce the same yield, so if someone’s offering an extra $.50 for the same work, it’s something you have to do,” Mr. Snow said.

It isn’t only Plenish and farmers working on the new soybean oil. Perdue AgriBusiness is involved too; contrary to common perception, Perdue does much more than produce chicken.

Perdue has local plants that crush and refine only Plenish soybeans. Many farmers like Mr. Snow grow more than one soybean, and a quick 20-second test is done on each load brought to Perdue to ensure it is a Plenish load and meets the high quality standards.

“All the loads I’ve grown have been right within the required oil content, and everyone else I know who grows Plenish has never had a problem growing the beans to meet quality standards,” Mr. Snow said.

Perdue’s local facilities also make delivery easy for Delmarva farmers with 10 local elevators, three East Coast crushing facilities and one refinery.

Once the oil is refined, it can be used for nearly any cooking need vegetable oil can be used for, but with a healthier spin like those of olive oil. Olive oil and Plenish oil both carry heart-healthy fats and bring out the flavor of the food that’s fried, rather than the taste of the oil itself.

Plenish high oleic soybean oil has no trans fat and even has 20 percent less saturated fat than ordinary soy oil.

Plenish oil has been in use at The Grange and Delaware State Farm Bureau at the Delaware State Fair for two years. The cooks have reported to DuPont that chicken cooks just as well as with conventional oil, but the meat absorbs less oil while maintaining flavor.

Plenish oil also has a fry-life two to three times longer than traditional cooking oil, allowing businesses to do more with less for a comparable price. It’s even better for the fryers because its increased heat stability doesn’t cause polymer buildup like conventional soy oils.

“We want this oil to be used everywhere from chip factories in Pennsylvania to white-linen fine dining restaurants in New York City,” Mr. Hughes said.

Plenish has doubled its acreage every year since 2011 and expects the upcoming growing season to be no different.

“Plenish soybeans are a game changer in the soybean industry,” Pat Arthur of DuPont said. “There is an increased value for farmers, food manufacturers have a need for it and it’s a product consumers will love.”

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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