Product advisory company Sagentia Innovation has released a guide for manufacturers to help them identify the best alternatives to sunflower oil.
With Ukraine being the biggest exporter of the cooking oil worldwide, the Russian invasion in February 2022 which blocked its seaports has resulted in major global shortages.
As the war continues, shortages of sunflower oil have forced many food manufacturers in the UK to swap it out for corn, rapeseed, soybean, coconut, and palm oil without any label changes.
Supermarkets have also been rationing the sale of cooking oil since April 2022, with Tesco customers being limited to purchasing three bottles per person. Only two items are allowed per person in Waitrose and Morrisons, whilst Iceland has restricted the sale of its cooking oil to one bottle per customer.
Sunflower oil has several unique properties which make it popular in snacks manufacturing, according to Sagentia Innovation. These include its neutral flavour profile, its long shelf life, low saturated fat content, high smoke point and low cost in comparison to other alternatives like olive or rapeseed oil.
“Understanding the deep science associated with its functional and nutritional properties, will be key to enabling food manufacturers to quickly respond and future proof their organisations against further market disruptions”, said Sagentia Innovation in its guidance.
It says the top factors to consider when choosing an alternative to sunflower oil are the flavour, saturation, smoke point, as well as whether it contains any allergens.
Rapeseed (or Canola) oil is one of the recommended alternatives as it is completely unsaturated and high in monounsaturated fat. Its high vitamin E, and omega 3, 6 and 9 content also makes it a healthy alternative.
Other suitable oils include safflower oil, rice bran oil as well as corn oil, though it is advised to use it in smaller quantities due to its saturated fat content.
If a product formulation suits an additional flavour, options such as avocado oil can be considered, the guidance says.
Where a food is being made which already contains allergens, almond, soy, and sesame oils can also be used as suitable alternatives to sunflower oil.
Do you know the scientific requirements for the substantiation of a health claim? Learn everything you need to know and more at this upcoming Masterclass: