According to Qualisoy, a soybean industry initiative helping market healthier, more functional soybean products to the food industry, Yum Brands Inc. represents the second major U.S. brand to switch to low-linolenic soybean oil. Yum Brands Inc. announced Oct. 30 that the company’s 5,500 KFC restaurants across the U.S. will switch from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil to low-linolenic soybean oil. KFC will use a Qualisoy-approved variety of this enhanced oil.

KFC’s commitment to this new variety is an important step in continuing the development of trait-enhanced soybeans that will offer increasing health benefits and functionality for foods. According to Qualisoy CEO John Becherer, “We applaud Yum Brands Inc. on its movement toward eliminating trans fats from Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) products by transitioning to a low-linolenic soybean oil. This is an important step towards making America’s favorite foods healthier.”

The breakthrough of low-linolenic soybean oil will benefit the food industry and consumers, and could add an estimated $100 million per year to the value of soybean commodities. After the 2006 soybean harvest, approximately 400 million pounds of low-linolenic oil could be available to the food industry, according to QUALISOY. It is predicted that more than one billion pounds of low-linolenic oil could be available by 2007.

Keeping their market potential in mind, soybean checkoff farmer-leaders reviewed all factors impacting their target markets and agreed to invest over 38.5 million dollars from their fellow soybean farmers in the following market areas: Animal Utilization, Industrial Utilization, Human Utilization, Supply, Industry Relations and Market Access.

Several low-linolenic soybean oil options are currently available to the food industry, providing alternatives to partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Low-linolenic soybeans that currently meet Qualisoy quality standards include Vistive from Monsanto; Pioneer brand low-linolenic soybeans; and Asoyia ultra low-linolenic soybeans. The resulting oils include Advantage LL brand soy oil processed by Cargill; Vistive low-linolenic soy oil processed by Ag Processing, Cenex Harvest States and Zeeland Farms; Treus brand soy oil, developed in partnership by Bunge and DuPont; and Asoyia ultra low-linolenic soybean oil. In the coming years, it’s estimated that additional soybean varieties will become widely available to meet food industry and consumer needs.

Kellogg Company announced in early December 2005 that it would reformulate using Qualisoy-approved low-linolenic soybean oil in an effort to eliminate trans fats from a number of its food products. This major investment by Kellogg’s sent a strong message to the industry about the application of low-linolenic oil. Kellogg’s will use a variety processed from Monsanto’s Vistive low-linolenic soybeans, as well as Bunge/Pioneer’s Treus low-linolenic soybean oil.