Sagentia Innovation highlights how to counter sunflower oil crisis with guidance on alternatives
09 Jun 2022 --- The continuing shortage of sunflower oil due to the war in Ukraine has prompted Sagentia Innovation to publish a guide on how food manufacturers can address this reformulation challenge and avoid market disruption by using scientific approaches to formulate sunflower alternatives.
However, the company admits that sunflower oil’s unique functional and nutritional properties mean that switching to a suitable alternative is not always straightforward.
“Reformulating to counteract the edible oil crisis requires deep scientific insight,” says Sagentia Innovation.
Sunflower oil is mainly composed of polyunsaturated linoleic acid and monounsaturated oleic acid. The proportions of these unsaturated fatty acids can be controlled through careful cultivation and post-harvest processing, according to the company.
Sunflower oil has a neutral flavor profile, high vitamin E content and a high smoke point. These properties, along with its relatively low cost and good shelf life, underpin its widespread use as an ingredient.
Cost-wise, vegetable oils continue to double last year’s prices, even after the FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index declined by 3.5% from April.
A myriad of oil options can be considered, but according to Sagentia, flavor, saturation and smoke point are the key factors that balance the decision toward one vegetable oil or another.
Furthermore, some alternatives have climate considerations, such as palm oil, where deforestation issues could drive away consumers. Additionally, the palm oil supply has suffered setbacks this year due to the short-lived export ban by Indonesia.
“Rapeseed oil – Canola - is particularly interesting since it is unsaturated and high in monounsaturated fat. It’s also high in Vitamin E and omega 3, 6, and 9 fats, which are beneficial to brain, heart, and joint health, and it’s been recommended by the British Heart Foundation for cooking use,” says Sagentia Innovation.
For formulations in which an additional flavor can be included or easily disguised, companies can also explore other alternatives, such as avocado oil, recommends the business.
In those products where allergens are built-in within the formulation, soy, sesame and almond oil can be considered.
To reduce the use of sunflower oil, Sagentia Innovation recommends a scientific approach.
“Understanding the scientific properties of sunflower oil and how it functions within food matrices is essential,” Maria Spinetta, F&B sector manager at Sagentia Innovation explains.
“When looking at alternatives, you need to consider how they will affect the individual product. For instance, in baked goods, oils impact sensory qualities such as texture and mouthfeel, whereas packaged snacks play a greater role in shelf life, stability and flavor. The smoke point is especially important in products with high processing temperatures, as using the wrong type of oil may result in rancidity and loss of nutritional value. Allergenicity is another critical consideration.”
However, admits that looking for alternatives is not easy, as supply chain considerations and economic costs must be considered.
Edited by Marc Cervera
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