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Interest in margarines rising due to plant-based diet trend

25 September 20207 min reading

Ebru Akdağ MÜMSAD General Coordinator, Food Engineer

Margarines have a wide range of uses, such as on bread at breakfast, as well as pot dishes, rice and pasta. But the area where it is probably unrivaled is pastries because margarines are produced in a way to ensure that features such as the expected crispness, taste, form etc. in pastries are achieved. Of course, all oils have a place on the table and their use depends on personal tastes and preferences. However, it is unlikely to get the same function with another oil. Of course, the interest in margarine is increasing when its plant-based feature is also added to its wide range of use.

Eating and drinking, which is indispensable for people to enjoy and socialize as well as for their survival, is an area that will never lose its popularity. Our food consumption preferences are changing both with the increase in the variety of products on the shelves and in parallel with our personal expectations. The first place in our expectations seems to be in favor of foods that will make us healthy. But each person’s metabolism, and therefore the right products for him, differs. On the other hand, one of the main factors that make food healthy for a person is its dose of consumption. Therefore, a safe and correct dose of food is a priority. A proverb that applies to every food is “Enough is as good as a feast.”

On the other hand, sustainable foods stand out among our expectations, which can have a positive effect on our own health as well as on the health of our planet. One of the most important steps that can be taken for sustainable nutrition is to increase the variety of foods, to focus on plant-based foods instead of animal foods, and to prevent food waste. Therefore, plant-based diet is among the recommendations of not only health authorities but also institutions such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

As you know, there is no life without oil. Fat is one of the essential nutrients for our diet and survival. Although diversity is important in nutrition, the wind of vegetable nutrition, which is important in terms of health and sustainability, also positively affects vegetable oils. Margarines, which are made entirely from a mixture of vegetable oils, are among those that fill their sails with this wind.

Margarines have a wide range of uses, such as on bread at breakfast, as well as pot dishes, rice and pasta. But the area where it is probably unrivaled is pastries because margarines are produced in a way to ensure that features such as the expected crispness, taste, form etc. in pastries are achieved. Of course, all oils have a place on the table and their use depends on personal tastes and preferences. However, it is unlikely to capture the same function with another oil. Of course, the interest in margarine is increasing when its plant-based feature is also added to its wide range of use.

Margarines in Turkey go trans fat-free 14 years before EU

One of the most important features of margarine, especially in our country, is that it can be produced without trans fat. Trans fat is basically divided into two: natural and industrial. The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that natural and industrial trans fats have similar effects and emphasizes that total trans fat consumption should be reduced for a healthy cardiovascular system. While natural trans fats were formed in the stomachs of ruminant animals, industrial ones were formed unintentionally during the “partial hydrogenation” process used in the past. Therefore, natural trans fatty acids exist in animal products; such as meat, milk, butter, cheese etc. The trans fat rate in butter is around 3 - 5%. You have no chance of removing natural trans fat from the product. And a good thing is that scientific research has found a way to eliminate industrial trans fats. Our country has also achieved a success that will set an example for the world with the R&D studies and investments made.

According to the new legislation, which has been prepared for the first time by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in our country and which will enter into force on December 31, 2020, the trans fat limit in all foods is determined to be 2 percent, as in common practices in EU countries. With this regulation, which we as MÜMSAD support wholeheartedly, it will now be valid for all foods, similar to the voluntary practice applied in margarines until now.

Margarine producers who are members of MÜMSAD have started to produce trans fat-free voluntarily since 2007. This means that the amount of trans fat in the products is less than 1% (usually 0.2 - 0.5%). With a permission given by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the term “trans fat free” is used on the packaging of the products that can reach this ratio. Thus, a target was achieved well below the 2% limit set in the campaigns for the elimination of trans fat on a global basis.

Today, the margarines of MÜMSAD member companies represent 98% of the products on the shelves. Therefore, “foods such as biscuits, crackers, chocolate products and wafers etc.” produced using these margarines do not contain trans fat. For this reason, you can see “no trans fat” logo not only on margarines but also on some other products.

With the responsibility of being the pioneer of the subject, “no trans fat” logo is registered on MÜMSAD and since 2008, products purchased from the market in different periods are analyzed in university laboratories. We can gladly say that no trans fats have been found to date above 1% in any product that declares that there is no trans fat.

If we look at the world; Turkey, pioneered by MÜMSAD, demonstrated the success of eliminating trans fat in margarine without any legal regulations and with a voluntary practice, was exemplary for many countries. Our country, which is 11 years ahead of the USA, 13 years of Canada and 14 years of the EU, has already achieved the 2023 target, set by the World Health Organization, 16 years before. This is a rare success story in the world.

Choice of those who care about their cholesterol

Another important feature of margarine is that it does not contain cholesterol. Since no plant-based product contains cholesterol, margarine does not contain cholesterol, either. Scientific sources have also revealed that a vegetative product not containing cholesterol does not have a negative effect on cholesterol after being refined from trans fatty acids. Therefore, today margarine is a food product preferred by those who want to pay attention to their cholesterol over animal alternatives.

Percentage of saturated fat almost same as oil

One of the misconceptions about margarine is saturated fat. All fats or oils found in nature contain both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. For example, take 100 grams of oil, saturated fat contents are at the levels of 14-17 grams for olive oil, 13 grams for corn oil and 11 grams for sunflower oil. The amount of saturated fat in 100 grams of bowl margarine is approximately 14 grams. In the light of this information, the saturated fat content in bowl margarines is almost at the same level as oil.

As a result, margarines, which have a history of 151 years, have changed in parallel with the developments in science and technology in this process. The story of the discovery of margarine is based on Napoleon’s competition to find alternative oil to butter and tallow in order to feed the people and the army. There are very few food items that came out with the first prize from a historic emperor. The margarine, which is one of the most consumed fats in the world, enters into 92 of per 100 households in Turkey. Nevertheless, it seems that with the effect of plant-based nutrition trend, not only household penetration but also purchase frequency will increase.

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