In a clever marketing move, Pioneer teamed up with the Soyfoods Council and invited editors from five national food magazines to Des Moines, Iowa, on September 28 and 29. Overall purpose was to get the food editors fired up about the benefits of soybeans and soybean oil in food. But specifically, Pioneer focused on Plenish, its high-oleic soybeans slated for introduction in 2012.
At Pioneer's headquarters in Johnston, Iowa, Russ Sanders, director, Dupont enhanced oil venture, said "for the last 15 years bio-tech has focused on traits in soybeans such as herbicide resistance, which primarily benefit farmers. But now with the ability to develop soybeans for food, there is a link consumers can identify with."
Sanders said the company is still going through the regulatory process but they expect to bring Plenish soybeans to the market in 2012. "In the meantime, our challenge is to convince farmers to grow Plenish soybeans. They are concerned about disease susceptibility and yield. But our research is showing impoved yields from the high-oleic soybeans."
"There is a lot of anticipation in the food industry for this product," noted Susan Knowlton, research manger, ag technology. "Plenish is the first bio-tech trait in soybeans that directly addresses the needs of today's consumer."
High-oleic soybean oil improves frying and shelf life features – stability and flavor. Other benefits include zero trans fat, less saturated fat and the lack of additives.
The food editors also toured a Cargill soybean crushing facility in Des Moines to learn how oil is extracted from the beans. They also heard a presentation from Brian McCullough, Bunge Oils director of marketing, on how the company markets soybean oil.
They also heard from Mark Messina, Nutrition Matters, a nutrition consulting company. Messina talked about the health benefits of soy foods and debunked some of the myths surrounding soy.
The Farm to Fork tour was climaxed with a lecture by Chef Christopher Koetke at the Iowa Culinary Institute at Des Moines Area Community College. Koetke, dean of the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College, talked about all the various products made from soybean oil and their uses in cooking and baking.
Food magazines represented included Restaurant Hospitality, Food Technology, The National Culinary Review, Food Management and QSR , a trade publication serving the quick-service and fast-casual restaurant industries.