The soybean oil manufacturer said it hopes the new partnerships with Life Science Partners (LSP) and Prolog Ventures will increase the production and marketing of its Ultra low linolenic oil products across America in a climate where food manufacturers are seeking to limit or remove trans fats. Asoyia hopes the funding will allow it to develop an expanding business development team while also maximizing distribution and increasing delivery points throughout the Midwest. "Now we'll be better able to inform farmers, and the agricultural industry in general, that we have a product that is not only unique and profitable, but also good for consumer health and the environment," said Greg Keeley, CEO of Asoiya. The company added it will continue to work closely with genetics suppliers to develop additional new varieties with increased yield potential and various disease resistance characteristics. Low linolenic acid The soybean oil with less than 1 percent linolenic acid, launched this February, was developed by plant breeders, led by Walter Fehr at Iowa State University as part of a search for soybean oils that do not require hydrogenation - a process that can prolong shelf-life but also lead to the formation of trans fatty acids. Soybean oil containing low levels of linolenic acid had previously been commercially available. However, it generally had a linolenic acid content of 3 percent, requiring more hydrogenation to maintain shelf-life. Asoyia said its products remain shelf-stable for two to three times longer than conventional oils and have zero trans fats per serving, meeting consumer demand for less trans fats, while maintaining a neutral taste. Keeley said: "We have an incredibly good product and a demand that's been extremely strong due to the emphasis on health and wellness, the FDA's new labeling legislation, and the banning of trans fat containing oils in some communities like New York." Dan Broderick, managing director of Prolog and new board member of Asoyia, said: Asoyia's Ultra low linolenic soybean products meet a critical need in the marketplace for trans-fat-free alternatives." Trans fats Numerous studies show that trans fatty acids raise serum levels of LDL-cholesterol, reduce levels of HDL-cholesterol, can promote inflammation, can cause endothelial dysfunction, and influence other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began requiring trans fat labeling on all packaged foods in 2006, spurring manufacturers to find non-hydrogenated oil alternatives and solutions. Asoyia-MO is produced from non-genetically modified soybeans. A company spokesperson said that regulations against the use of GM ingredients in other countries may require many companies to maintain separate manufacturing runs of ingredients inventories requiring higher investment. Asoyia-MO avoids these extra costs. Formed in 2004 by 25 Iowa farmers, Asoyia is now a farmer and employee-owned company based in Iowa City, Iowa that grows and processes 1 percent ultra low linolenic soybeans to produce trans fat-free oils.
Asoyia has secured a $4m agreement with two venture capital firms to expand the marketing, research and development of its low linolenic, trans fats free soy products.