Health and Functionality Lead New Food Oil Technology
Radical shifts in how consumers and the FDA are viewing oils and fats today are influencing the fats and oils supply chain and creating a market for new ingredients that appeal to both. In addition, demand for sustainable seed production practices, better land management, and—most especially—the push for clean-label and non-GMO ingredients has product developers digging for new food oil sources.
Last year’s predictions pointed to the increasing interest in naturally high-omega chia oil and clean-tasting, high-smoke-point almond oil, and those continue to trend up. So, too, do the more long-legged trends in avocado oil and grapeseed oil. All of these healthy oils are rich in omega fatty acids and already readily available to processors.
High-oleic canola and soy oils will continue to gain ground as primary alternatives for trans-fatty acids. In fact, according to statistics released by the United Soybean Board, by 2023 high-oleic soy will become the fourth largest crop in the US.
Rice bran oil, red palm, and annatto oils also continue to gain ground, not least for their high amounts of tocotrienol vitamin E. As previously noted in these pages, the tocotrienol form of E has an antioxidant power several hundred times that of the more common tocopherol form.
And, of course, with cannabis foods poised to infiltrate the market in a major way in 2019/2020, we can expect high-CBD oil from hemp to piggyback on that trend. Here’s a peek into other new fats and oils flowing down the pipeline.
Tree nut oils, especially almond, pecan, and walnut oils, are continuing to enjoy greater use by processors. All are desirable for their heart-health benefits. Walnut oil, the only tree nut oil that is considered an “excellent source” of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid, also offers high levels of oleic, linoleic, and linolenic polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Mechanically pressed and cold-pressed walnut oils are growing in restaurant and foodservice use for their rich, nutty taste, but not overwhelming taste in simply cooked foods like soups, salads, vegetables and grain foods that consumers order for health reasons. The alpha- and gamma-tocopherols in walnut offer radical-chain breaking antioxidant stability and consistency in biochemical profile.
Rapidly growing interest in Asian and Middle Eastern culinary traditions has been a boon to sesame oil, though to be the oldest edible oil consumed by humans. Sesame oil consumption is benefiting from an uptick in interest among consumers. It has become a favored ingredient for margarines, spreads, and dressings in addition to cooking purposes.
Interestingly, Ocean Hugger Foods LLC, makers of vegetarian tuna and eel analogs, uses sesame oil for its flavor and functional glistening capacity to increase visual authenticity in its tomato-based and eggplant-based products. New for 2019 and beyond is benne oil. Benne is the African word for sesame, but in today’s context it refers to heirloom varieties of sesame. The resulting oils have a fuller, richer, yet slightly more astringent flavor than their tamer cousins.
Green Peanut Oil
Last year, experts pointed to a coming renaissance for peanut oil, with a side note that roasted peanut oil lends an indulgent flavor to foods. New to this scene is green peanut oil. As with other peanut oils, it is a non-GMO clean-label oil with a bright clean flavor that hints of sweet raw peanuts. While it has a high smoke point of nearly 400°F, it also brightens sauce and salad dressing applications.
Algal oil has had trouble “getting out of the gate” since its launch a few years ago, but rerelease into the retail market and focus on its 90% monounsaturated fat content—approximately 25% more than in olive oil or avocado oil—has given it a well-needed boost. An important aspect of algal oil is its high smoke point. Both these traits give algal oil great adaptability in competition with oils and fats that are commonly cooked or heated in a way that can impact oxidation.
With the spiking increase in concern for sustainability and the environment, one aspect of oil from algae is that, unlike other fats and oils derived from seed crops and dairy, algae needs no arable land and very little time from growth to production as it is harvested in fermentation tanks in a matter of days. Thus it leaves a low carbon footprint without consuming much water or impacting air quality.
Just like liquid fats, solid fats, too, are trending up. Duck fat, noted last year as one to watch, continues to climb in popularity. And butter has all but ceased to scare away consumers who better understand that fat is not the demon they had once been led to believe.
That said, solid fats from plants are increasing in popularity. This is due, in part, to the coconut craze and the attendant popularity of MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oil from coconut. Other plant sources of fats ticking up include products such as Fora Foods LLC’s FabaButter. Touted as the first 1:1 plant-based alternative to dairy butter, the butter substitute is made from coconut and aquafaba, the liquid purge from cooked chickpeas.
Another butter analog in the pipeline is a plant-based vegan replacement from algae. Algae butter has a sharp melting point and delivers butter-like performance in spreads, baked goods and frostings with half the saturated fat of palm oil, palm-based shortenings, butter, and lard. In formulations, it acts as a non-hydrogenated structuring fat that can replace shea stearin, cocoa butter, and palm oil in chocolate confectionery, baked goods, and spreads.
Up and Coming Oils
Okra Seed Oil
Okra seed oil is fresh off the oil press and not yet widely available. However, it is a big discovery among top chefs who prize it for its bright green flavor and pleasant almost floral aroma.
Ahiflower oil is derived from a proprietary variety of borage seeds valued as a rich single-plant source of SDA (stearidonic acid), omega-3 ALA; omega-6 GLA (gamma linolenic acid), linoleic acid, and omega-9 (oleic acid). Ahiflower oil contains 20% SDA, which is converted directly in the human body to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), more commonly derived from fish and other marine sources. It has a light, nutty taste and may be used in salad dressings, smoothies, and ice cream—foods that are prepared at low or ambient temperatures. Ahiflower oil is a viable source of omega-3 oils for infant formulas.
Borneo Tallow Nut Oil
Borneo tallow nut oil or sal nut oil is extracted from the fruit of the tree species of genus Shorea, trees that are native to Southeast Asia. The major component of the oil is stearic acid (about 43%). Borneo tallow nut oil is primarily used as a substitute for cocoa butter in the manufacture of chocolate in Latin America and Europe.
Argan oil, derived from the nuts of a Moroccan native tree, has enjoyed recent popularity as an ingredient in natural skin health and cosmetic applications. But it’s not just for topical use. Argan oil has its own organoleptic attributes as well as impressive cardioprotective properties. Foods fried in argan oil absorb less oil than when fried in corn or cottonseed oil
Mango Seed Oil/Butter
Mango seed oil is cold-press and expeller-press extracted from mango seeds. The kernels contain 7-12% of a light, yellow oil rich in stearic (24-57%) and oleic (34-56%) acids. The oil also contains phytosterols, such as campesterol, sitosterol, and mixed tocopherols. It is a semi-solid oil at room temperature and melts at 90–108°F. This makes mango oil ideal for “melt-in-your-mouth” chocolate and confectionery applications. Its high stearic acid content makes it suitable as a solution for chocolate tempering in tropical climates. Cocoa butter, which constitutes about 35% of chocolate, makes chocolate an expensive food. Mango butter, produced from seeds that are a waste stream in mango processing, is a viable, sustainable, and less expensive alternative to cocoa butter in chocolate production.
Originally appeared in the December, 2018 issue of Prepared Foods as Slick New Oils.