Why Sunflower Oil Is The New Popular Oil of Natural Food Manufacturing

Posted by Hannah Broaddus

Sunflower OilThe popularity of sunflower oil has increased exponentially over the last couple of years.

If you walk down the aisles of Whole Foods and check the ingredient labels, you'll see that sunflower oil is a highly popular oil right now. Walking the Natural Products Expo West this year, I found the exact same results.

The question that this raises for natural food manufacturers is: Why is this particular oil so popular? And if it’s right for other brands (and my competition), is there a good chance it would be right for my product?

Let’s start to tackle some of those questions.


Why Sunflower Oil Is So Popular In The Natural Foods Industry

Food ingredients across the board are taking a turn towards healthier options (and extra healthy, and extra extra healthy). In the oil industry especially, commonly considered "bad oils" like soybean, corn and even conventional canola oil are being switched out for "good oils” — olive oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil and even non-GMO canola oil.

Sunflower oil is one of the most popular options being switched out. If you look at the ingredient labels on the back of each product, you’ll actually find sunflower oil even more prevalently than what’s considered the industry’s healthiest oil, olive oil.

Let's take a look at why this is.


It's Naturally Non-GMO

Sunflower oil is naturally non-GMO. This means that as an industry standard, sunflower seeds are not genetically modified. You don't have to look for a non-GMO vs. GMO version of this oil – it should all be non-GMO.


It Has A Mild Flavor & Light Color

If you are switching away from conventional soybean or canola oil, sunflower oil is a really easy oil to switch to.

The taste profile is very mild and the oil is a light color allowing it to be swapped out one for one.


The Price Is Right

While it's not the cheapest oil in the book, sunflower oil comes in at a low price point— especially in comparison to olive oil or other organic options.

Of course, you get what you pay for, so it makes sense that you will not be able to trade your RBD soybean fry oil for a high-quality alternative without paying a premium.

If you want to take a closer look, here’s a great article comparing the cost of each option: How The Price Of Bulk Olive Oil Compares To Sunflower/Safflower Oil


It’s Healthy

The National Sunflower Association (and umpteen consumers) touts sunflower for it’s many health benefits.

Interestingly, this association also touts the cardiovascular benefits of mid-oleic sunflower oil saying, “For the first time, a controlled clinical study shows the heart-health benefit of using NuSun [mid-oleic] sunflower oil. The study showed that individuals experienced a significant total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol lowering on the NuSun [mid-oleic] sunflower oil diet compared to the average American diet, but did not experience significant cholesterol lowering on the olive oil diet.”


Is Sunflower Oil Right For Your Product?

All these healthy traits add up to a popular oil ingredient if you’re making a product for the natural foods industry. But how you do you know if it’s the right fit for your product? Start by asking these questions.

  • Do you need a light and mild oil that won’t affect the taste profile?
  • Where are your price limits?
  • Would your customers like to see sunflower oil on your label?

Move forward through the evaluation process by getting a price quote and having your R&D team test the oil in your product.

Topics: Sunflower/Safflower Oil



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