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9th June 2022  Content supplied by: Sagentia Innovation

Counteracting the Sunflower Oil Crisis

"Reformulating to counteract the edible oil crisis requires deep scientific insight," says Sagentia Innovation.

A systematic, science-led approach is needed to overcome complex processing challenges when reformulating foods in response to the current sunflower oil shortage. This is the advice from specialists in biophysics, biochemistry, and food engineering at R&D consultancy Sagentia Innovation. They say the unique functional and nutritional properties of sunflower oil mean that switching to a suitable alternative is not always straightforward.

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. Sunflower oil also has a neutral flavour profile, high vitamin E content, and a high smoke point. These properties, along with its relatively low cost and the role it plays in attributes such as shelf-life, underpin its widespread use as an ingredient.

Sagentia Innovation has published guidance on how food manufacturers can tackle this reformulation challenge and avoid market disruption. As well as highlighting the benefits of a structured, methodical approach it includes top-line information on the smoke point, health, and flavour characteristics of 20 sunflower oil alternatives. Maria Spinetta, Food and Beverage Sector Manager at Sagentia Innovation, says these three characteristics should be assessed upfront when considering replacement oils.

"Understanding the scientific properties of sunflower oil, and how it functions within food matrices, is essential," Spinetta 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 in packaged snacks they play a greater role in shelf-life, stability, and flavour. 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."

As well as potentially changing the nutritional and sensory qualities of food products, switching to a different oil has supply chain repercussions. This can impact unit economics and sustainability credentials. In some situations, manufacturers may need to explore different ingredients, such as hydrocolloids, or novel processing technologies which replace the need for baking or frying.

"Reformulating foods always raises a host of technical considerations related to processing, sensory properties, and nutritional value," Spinetta explains. "In today's environment, sustainability and cost implications also need to be scrutinised. It is possible to find effective solutions to the sunflower oil shortage, but it requires deep scientific expertise combined with an understanding of the wider food sector ecosystem."

Click here to read the detailed guidance note or contact the supplier for details using the green "Request Information" button below.



Date Published: 9th June 2022

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