Industry Gives NuSun High Marks
Industry Gives High Marks for NuSun Performance
However, more acres needed to ensure supply
NuSun got a huge vote of confidence last summer, when Procter & Gamble announced that it was switching its Pringles line of potato chips to the up-and-coming sunflower oil for all of its markets in North and South America, parts of Europe, and Asia. It was a ringing endorsement, as more Pringles are sold worldwide than any other potato snack brand.
A half year later, about the only request the food industry giant would have for NuSun is more acres of it.
“We like what we see so far,” says David Chang, Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH. “For supply assurance, industrial users would like to see more NuSun plantings. Now, there’s plenty enough for us, but if we have good experiences with it, others may jump in as well, and we don’t want to be in a situation where we are competing for raw material.”
At the 2001 NSA Research Forum in Fargo, ND, Chang presented an overview of P&G’s experience thus far in using NuSun as an industrial frying oil for use in the production of Pringles at the company’s Jackson TN plant.
Chang reaffirmed that NuSun, as a mid-oleic vegetable oil, is more stable than many frying oils, and shows less product darkening of the chips during the
frying process. It has a clean taste that is important for consumers but also for bringing out Pringles' flavorings. He notes that as a natural hybrid, NuSun is a good oil choice for non-biotech requirements. Change says the company is using NuSun for a major part of its production and would like to expand its use.
Emulate Japanese auto marketing strategy
Ed Campbell, vice president of ADM’s food oils division, Decatur, IL, says more companies are analyzing NuSun and seeing the advantages it has over other vegetable oils. “Other uses are on the horizon, but the commercial availability of acreage is critical to the future development of NuSun,” he says.
Campbell says he recognizes that as a young commodity, NuSun is caught in somewhat of a catch 22: To grow more NuSun acres, producers want to see more of a price premium. Industrial users want to see more NuSun acres before committing to the oil, but affordability is also key.
“NuSun was introduced as an affordable commodity-type oil. It has to be priced competitively, and it’s critical for usage growth for it’s price to continue to be affordable. That doesn’t suggest cheap—but it has to be affordable,” says Campbell. Oil is a primary ingredient for many users and you can see why they might be hesitant about switching over to NuSun if they see a price increase and the product’s not available.”
He points to corn oil as a path NuSun shouldn’t repeat. “As demand grew, and more people began to use it, the price increased to where the food industry formulated away from it. Now it has declined in price. You can build great interest and lose it just as fast,” he says. Instead, NuSun should look to build marketshare in America like Japanese automobiles. “When they first came into the U.S., they were priced economically. They got our demand. Did you notice what happened then? Now you don’t find cheap Japanese automobiles, but they’re still affordable and provide good quality and performance. If we keep NuSun competitive and build and available supply, demand will take over. The demand will be there,” says Campbell.
NuSun will help build a more lucrative domestic market, he adds. “While exports are good, the domestic market is better in the long run,” Campbell says.
In five and a half years, NuSun has climbed from nonexistence to the top vegetable oil choice by a multi-national company. “That’s fabulous progress,” he says.
Campbell also points out that technical representatives from competing companies have been involved with NuSun’s development and evaluation from the beginning. “It’s unprecedented to have this much industry support and involvement in an oilseed crop. I don’t see it with other oilseeds. It’s exceptional and shows the great interest in this by the food processing industry.”
Frito-Lay is one food processing giant that is looking for a more steady, proven supply of NuSun before it commits to using the oil. With NuSun hybrids improving every growing season, Campbell believes supply concerns can be overcome.
“NuSun will be a success before any of the other modified oil crops. It is an industry that’s being led by everyone, not just one commercial company, and NuSun will become the gold standard, because it will capture the market if we can produce it,” he says. “Sunflower over the years has had a problem with sustaining acreage, and for the food giants around the world to stay involved and get committed, we need availability, affordability, and sustainable NuSun production.” – Tracy Sayler
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