With consumers currently purchasing more plant-based and clean label foods, what should food manufacturers focus on as they innovate for the future? Several trend reports point to foods that will encourage "well being", "mindful eating" and will fit with "personalized nutrition". But where do you start, if you want to be ahead of the trend curve?
One of the most common ingredients used to manufacture snacks, bakery products, entrees, sauces, condiments, and even non-dairy beverages is oil. When was the last time you considered the type of oil you are using in your products?
What do consumers want?
Nowadays, many consumers are looking for non-GMO ingredients and non-GMO sunflower oil as a simple replacement for other oils. Previously, synthetic antioxidants were commonly added to most edible oils to maintain stability. Now natural antioxidants are being added instead, and they have proven to be just as effective in maintaining stability and also helping to create cleaner labels. USA sunflower oil is also eligible for a new qualified health claim that was approved by the FDA in late 2018. It suggests that daily consumption of 1 ½ tablespoons of oils containing high oleic acid may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.1 All high oleic sunflower oil and some mid oleic sunflower oil qualify for this claim.
What do food manufacturers want?
Top of mind is creating a product that has a reasonable shelf life. Both mid oleic and high oleic sunflower oil are high in monounsaturated fats and contain only a trace of linolenic fatty acids. As a result, they have superior stability and often provide an extended shelf life to food products. And if you are creating fried foods, the high MUFA content also gives sunflower oil a longer fry life than many other oils and there may be less absorption of the oil into your products.
Will an oil change impact your customers' perception of your product?
Since taste is the #1 factor to consumers when they are purchasing a product, you don't want to disrupt a flavor profile that appeals to your customers. Sunflower oil has such a light, neutral taste and research shows that consumers often prefer it, particularly in snack foods. Mouthfeel is also an important consideration to consumers and sunflower oil provides a healthy alternative to saturated fats in vegan and vegetarian products as well as Kosher and Halal products.
Growing your company's sales
Sunflower oil will not only meet your functional requirements, but it may also increase your sales. A 2019 survey indicated that 71% of consumers are interested in purchasing products made with sunflower oil.2
If you are curious about how sunflower oil will perform in your product formulations, contact a sunflower oil supplier or contact the National Sunflower Association at: 701-328-5100.
- Edible oils must contain at least 70% oleic acid and need to be substituted for saturated fats. All high oleic sunflower oil and some mid oleic sunflower oils qualify for this claim
- Omnibus survey conducted with 1,500 participants on the Maru/Blue Research Forum on October 30, 2019