Cereal company Kellogg has today (Friday) announced a major investment in new technologies that will make it possible to reduce or eliminate trans fatty acids while also minimizing the saturated fat content of its products.

As a major part of this investment, Kellogg will become one of the first food manufacturers to use low linolenic soybean oil through an agreement with Monsanto.  Kellogg will use Monsanto's Vistive low-lin soybean oil to reduce or eliminate trans fatty acids in a number of its products.

"Kellogg has a longstanding history of innovation, which is why we are among the first to invest in low-lin oils to reduce or eliminate trans fatty acids in our products," said David Mackay, president and chief operating officer. "Our goal is to make use of the most innovative ingredients possible and to encourage the accelerated production and adoption of low-lin oils so the public will benefit from this breakthrough technology. This is one of many steps we are taking to continue to provide healthy alternatives to consumers."

Kellogg anticipates introducing some products reformulated with Vistive oil in early 2006. However, MacKay noted there currently is a significant shortage of low-lin soybean oil.  In order to meet future demand, soybean farms will need to transform their production methods, and food manufacturers will need to signal their intention to use low-lin soybean varieties.

According to the United Soybean Board, in 2005, farmers planted about 200,000 acres of low linolenic soybean varieties. Nearly a million acres are expected to be planted in 2006 to meet the anticipated demand for low-lin soybean oil and significantly more will be necessary to replace the more than 5bn pounds of partially hydrogenated soybean oil used annually in the United States. Currently, soybean oil accounts for 80%, or 17.5bn pounds, of the oil consumed in the US and is the most widely used oil in food production.

To help address the shortage, Kellogg will be working with the Bunge/DuPont Biotech Alliance, another producer of low linolenic soybeans, to increase production of Nutrium, its low-lin soybean oil, for use in 2007 in addition to increased acreage of the Monsanto Visitive soybean varieties. Kellogg is also taking a leadership role within the food industry by calling for better cooperation among farmers, seed producers, and food manufacturers to create a reliable supply and efficient delivery of soybean varieties with a low linolenic acid profile. These efforts will focus on enlisting more farmers to grow low-lin soybeans under contract with participating soybean processors, who will crush the grain, refine the oil and market the oil to food companies.

It will also require an investment by other food manufacturers to create the market demand necessary for ramping up larger volumes of low linolenic soybean varieties.

"Kellogg is providing the leadership needed to expedite the commercialization of low-lin soybean varieties," said John Becherer, CEO of the soybean industry's Qualisoy initiative and the United Soybean Board. "We have long recognized the value of bringing healthier soybeans to the marketplace.  With Kellogg's decision to begin reformulating some of its products with low-lin soybean oil, we now have the impetus for expediting production of soybean enhancements that will better meet the needs of the food industry and ultimately the consumer."