Innovative Grower Low Linolenic Soybeans

Don Hofstrand, value-added agriculture field specialist

Don Hofstrand is one of the founders and mangers of Innovative Growers, a farmer-owned specialty grain production company.  Innovative Growers will be producing a type of soybean that, when processed, will produce a healthier cooking oil. 

Foods made with this cooking oil will contain substantially less amounts of trans fat.  Trans fat has been identified as a culprit in the development of coronary heart disease.  The Food and Drug Administration has given food manufacturers until 2006 to include trans fat information on package labels. 

Most trans fat is created by hydrogenating vegetable oils.  Linolenic acid in soybeans cause the oil to be unstable and become rancid.  A hydrogenation process is used to extend the shelf life and stabilize the flavor of the oil.  This special type of soybean, developed by Walt Fehr at Iowa State University, does not need to be hydrogenated because it contains low levels of linolenic acid.  Because the hydrogenation process is not needed, it eliminates the trans fat in the cooking oil.

Due to the need for food companies to reduce trans fat, low linolenic Roundup-Ready soybean acreage is expected to expand greatly in coming years and become a commodity.  However, Innovative Growers expects to become a niche player in the market by offering a non-GMO, non-hexane processed, low linolenic oil that is produced and distributed under IP and certification systems.

Innovative Growers, consisting of 38 farmers located mainly in north central and east central Iowa, received a small supply of this soybean seed from ISU.  It expanded the seed supply by growing it last winter in Argentina and then growing 2000 acres of it in Iowa this summer.  It is expected that there will be enough seed for Innovative Grower members to produce 60,000 to 80,000 acres of this soybean for the 2005 growing season.

Although markets are usually the biggest concern in value-added business development, this is not the case for Innovative Grower’s low linolenic soybeans. A consultant hired by Innovative Growers has identified many market opportunities through market analysis.

Current plans are being implemented to:

The activities are funded by the members of Innovative Growers and the USDA Rural Development's Value-Added Development Grant.

121 - Adding Value and Enhancing Agricultural Products

Page last updated: July 9, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz,