ST. LOUIS — A partnership between the soybean checkoff and two seed companies promises to increase the soybean oil market substantially. But Illinois farmers will have to wait a while before they can plant the beans.

United Soybean Board officers, along with representatives from DuPont and Monsanto, announced recently that they are working together to expand the market for high-oleic beans. Projections are that the biotech seeds will be available for planting on 80 percent of soybean acres by the year 2020.

The varieties initially will be available only to soybean growers in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, according to Vanessa Kummer, outgoing USB chair.

“That is a targeted marketing strategy,” she said. “But our partnership takes that strategy and applies it more broadly, making high-oleic soybean seed more widely available which can lead to having more acres planted and a strong signal to our partners in the value chain that it is important to our future.”

High-oleic oils are high in monounsaturated fats and provide more stability under higher temperatures than regular oil. Canola and olive oils are naturally high-oleic.

“The promising new soy oil features significantly increased oxidative stability, which is critical for high heat applications like frying foods, and also contains less saturated fats,” Kummer said. “This increased functionality will be important for both food and industrial customers.”

It has the potential to increase the value of U.S. soy oil substantially. The partnership could bring as much as $2 billion to soybean farmers by 2023, helping strengthen U.S. soy competitiveness in the global market, according to Kummer.

“The partnership will accelerate (DuPont and Monsanto) to develop a higher range of maturity groups,” she said. “In addition to expanding breeding programs, the checkoff committee is also committed to high-oleic soy with the farm, food and industrial sectors.

“What is unique about this opportunity is that farmers will work with food and industrial customers to help increase demand. By expanding the availability of high-oleic soybean varieties, we are strengthening U.S. soy’s competitiveness and strategically leading the industry into the future.”

Russ Sanders, marketing director for DuPont’s Pioneer seed brand, said the partnership will greatly increase the manufacture of high-oleic soybean varieties.

“This will enable much broader access to this innovative technology,” he said. “High-oleic soybeans are nothing less than a reinvention of soybean oil from the perspective of food and industrial customers and, ultimately, the consumer.

“A key challenge is to develop a large-scale, high efficient supply chain to bring the technology to the market and to do it as rapidly as possible. With the USB initiative, we can drive it to its full potential by expansion.”

Jim Tobin, Monsanto’s vice president for industry affairs, said his company recently entered into a partnership with an industrial lubricant manufacturer to explore opportunities for bio-based lubricants.

“This collaboration offers opportunities,” he said.

DuPont and Monsanto are seeking approval for their high-oleic varieties in Europe and elsewhere.

The unique partnership with Monsanto and soybean growers is critical to the success of the project, according to Sanders.

“Everybody benefits. That includes processors, growers and end-users,” he said. “We really like where we are. With this announcement, it really indicates how together the industry is. We think that’s the formula for success.”

Tobin agreed.

“It’s important to have farmer involvement to help make sure we can produce plenty of this,” he said. “That’s why we’re excited to have USB in on this. It sends a message to the food companies that we have farmers on board.”