Use of vegetable oil in bakery products and consumer trends

13 May 202217 min reading

“Vegetable oils are the most important raw material of bakery production in various recipes and forms. They directly affect the critical parameters of the products they prescribe such as structure, melting profile in the mouth, flavor, shelf life and therefore it is very important to use the right oil according to the application.”

Umut Onsan  
Cargill Foods META R&D Oil Category Lead Cargill Gıda Orta Doğu, 
Türkiye ve Afrika Ar&Ge Yağ Kategori Lideri

Vegetable oils, which are the basic building blocks of the foods in our lives from the snacks we consume to the basic food bread, from food to the vegan dairy industry, are one of the most important food commodities in the world with a consumption exceeding 200 million tons worldwide.

In our country, vegetable oil consumption exceeds 2 million tons per year, while the main consumption is in Sunflower oil. Sunflower oil still represents more than 50% of the oil consumed within the country's borders. While packages and table margarines purchased by the end consumer are consumed at 110,000 tons and are growing negatively due to recent trends, while olive oil, which is also one of our important products, is at 140,000 tons.


Vegetable oils are the most important raw material of bakery production in various recipes and forms. They directly affect the critical parameters of the products they prescribe such as structure, melting profile in the mouth, flavor, shelf life and therefore it is very important to use the right oil according to the application.

Before understanding the effects of oils, it is necessary to understand the oil technology in general terms. Various raw materials in factories to achieve the targeted properties in the final application according to melting profiles, crystallization behaviors and stability as determined by the studies carried out by R&D teams they are modified and then they are blended. This blend is subjected to refining process and purified. Emulsifiers, antioxidants, etc. are added to the refined mixture according to the desired functionality, if it is margarine, water is added. This final mixture is crystallized and packaged in surface scraper heat exchangers to establish the crystal structure, which is the most important factor in creating the structure in baked goods. Since the differences in parameters like the cooling profile, capacity, scraping speeds applied for this process, will convert even the same prescriptions into other structures, they are determined by R&D teams by repeatedly testing in pilot facilities and applied with precision by production teams. After production, some products are tempered for a certain period under controlled temperature conditions and then shipped.

In terms of raw material, the most commonly used oil is palm oil. Palm, which is a fruit oil, is a very suitable raw material for this area with its melting profile and stability in its natural form. They create the recipe suitable for application by modifying palm oil and its derivatives or blending directly with liquid oils such as sunflower, cotton and canola.

We can examine the uses and effects of vegetable oils used for bakery products in different classes.

General purpose pastry fats are the most consumed products in the traditional market. They are used between 20-30% in pastry products such as pastries, cookies, cakes, etc., there are both versions of margarine with different proportions of water and full fat versions. These oils are designed to maintain the structure at room temperature but not to create a waxy feel the mouth by melting quickly at the body temperature.  At this point, the concept called SFC comes up, this parameter, "Solid Fat Content", is the most important parameter of vegetable oils. The SFC value of an oil at a temperature indicates how much of that oil is solid as a percentage at that temperature, if we measure this value at different temperatures, it shows us the melting profile of the final product and how it will behave at what temperature.  The chart below shows SFC profiles of oils for various applications, including pastry.

Another important parameter along with the SFC profile is the crystal structure of the oil. The crystal structure created during production, coupled with flour and other materials, should be able to form a matrix. For this reason it should be flexible and plastic structure, not break when bent. This structure traps the water in the dough, and this adds volume to the product by evaporating the water. If this crystal structure is not achieved, a weak matrix is formed in the dough, the oil cannot provide a sufficient lubrication and as a result of this a hard dough is formed and this structure is called dough rubbering. The desired volume and crunch cannot be reached in the final product. In the photos below, a product that maintains its plastic structure and flexibility when it’s correctly crystallized and the bend can be seen, on the right side a fragile product that is incorrectly crystallized and the products made with the fragile product will not be of the desired structure and volume.


Finally, the oxidative stability of the oil, i.e. the rate of bitterness throughout the shelf life, is a critical parameter, not in terms of performance but also in terms of the taste of the final product since the end consumer will notice that if the oil in the final product becomes bitter. It must first be designed correctly with raw materials with high oil stability, if this is not technically possible, it should be supported with antioxidants, then stored under appropriate conditions and when it’s being used it must not be exposed to direct and high temperature. Palm oil derivatives and hydrogenated versions show the highest stability as the saturated fatty acid content of the oil increases.

Lamination fats, these products are produced in a similar way to general purpose oils, but in the lamination process in bakery products made by touring like croissants, puffs, etc., whether by hand or by machine, it is the most critical component. These products are usually formulated as 100% fat and are expected to be very hard but also flexible. During the process, dough and fat are folded and toured, while the fat layer is expected not to leak out while maintaining its hardness during this process, but at the same time it is expected to flexibly hold the water evaporating from the dough during cooking and ensure that the final product is of the desired volume and layer.

Making these products both hard and flexible is one of the most important problems faced by industrial manufacturers. While trans fats have been used for this work in the past, trans fats are not used in today's modern world and this restriction makes these products more difficult to make. 

At this point, it is also necessary to mention two modification technologies; hydrogenation and interesterification, with these two technologies that developed rapidly after the 1980s, raw materials are modified with a series of reactions and with this process, parameters such as melting profiles, crystallization behaviors, oxidative stability are changed. Thanks to these processes, modern oils have become both more functional and healthier because they have a lower melting point and can be produced without trans fats. These two technologies form the basis of today's vegetable oil and margarine production.

Biscuit and cracker oils are mainly used in large quantities by industrial enterprises of large factory size. These oils are especially important for the formation of crunchy structure in the final product, on the other hand, melting profiles are designed to melt at human body temperature so that they do not create a waxy taste in the mouth. Again, since these products have a long shelf life, the oil they contain also needs to have a long life. So palm oil is generally preferred in the production of biscuits and crackers and is produced without water.

The oils used in this field are generally referred to as "shortening". Dough shorteners, which disrupt the gluten network, preventing the dough from growing, thus preserving the shape of both biscuits or crackers and preventing problems with molding equipment in production.

Traditional or industrial cookie production is now widespread in packages and therefore the oil industry is developing solutions specific to this field. Although cookie dough seems to be close to biscuit and cracker doughs, the final product is relaying quite high on fat. Especially in hand-processed cookies, the integration of oil with dough should be very good so that the dough can be easily processed and create a crunchy structure in the final product. Therefore, palm-based full fat products are used in this area, in some applications nitrogen is injected into the oil during production to create a more porous and creamy structure, which provides a crunchy and porous structure to the cookie, which is the reason of choice by consumers.

Especially if the oil used in industrial cookie production is too soft, the dough will be too elastic, so the machines cannot work. If it is too hard, the opposite effect appears, for these reasons, the oils used for machine-produced cookies are designed and produced by the oil producers specifically to customers.

Cake oils play an important role in bakery products, whether their production is by hand by traditional methods or in industrial lines. Especially designed for industrial cakes, the oils are designed to hold maximum air incorporation on top of the main parameters such as melting profile, stability, etc., so that the cake produced by holding air into the oil when preparing the cake dough is porous and voluminous. 

Apart from these main areas, vegetable oils play an important role in the production of many more bakery products such as bread production, production of pastries such as baklava, production of regional flavors such as fatty cereals.

Another important area of vegetable oil use in the world of bakery products is the occasional filling or coating of the produced baked goods, such filled and coated products make the work even more complicated for the oil industry because in this case both the oil that enters the dough and the filling / coating oil must be compatible with each other and work synergistic.

Soft fluid or semi-fluid filling oils are usually used for baked goods fillings, and it is expected to keep the oil filling stable during cooking. The vegetable oil industry has solved this problem by adding various vegetable emulsifiers to liquid oil. In this sense cotton oil is widely used in our country. As a result of the oil in the filling being separated from the filling during cooking or during the shelf life, the amount of fat in the filling decreases and the so-called filling drying occurs, filling fats are specially designed to prevent this situation and they come to the market after long tests.

Covering baked goods with chocolate or vegetable oil-based compound is a very common practice in today's snack industry. The melting point and crystallization rate of the oil used for this process are the most critical parameters, a very large proportion of the oil is expected to be solid at room temperature, i.e. very hard, while when eaten it is expected to melt immediately. So the steeper the melting profile of these oils between 20OC and 35OC, the more successful the final product will be.  The crystallization rate is critical for the enterprise because this speed determines the production capacity of the enterprise, the faster the coating hardens in the cooling tunnel, the higher the production speed. Palm kernel oil and fractions, which are naturally suitable for coatings in the food industry, are used. While these oils provide a steep melting profile in their natural state, they are modified with hydrogenation and interesterification technologies in order to make them very suitable for coating with much steeper melting profiles.

Cargill is capable of producing bakery products including fillings and coating as prototypes for customers in its innovation center facility at the Balıkesir location. 


To answer this question, it is necessary to divide the bakery market into traditional channels with producers such as bakeries, pastry makers, and industrial channels with medium/large-scale producers, because both the customer audiences, expectations, and dynamics of these two channels are completely independent of each other.  It is worth looking at the trends in the world before discussing the issue in particular on these channels.

Regardless of bakery products or vegetable oil, consumers around the world try to live healthier and therefore pay more attention to the ingredients of the products they consume.

According to a 2021 study, 66% of consumers in Europe, Turkey, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) are confident that health and sport are a personal value. Considering that this rate was 58% in 2014, there is a serious upward trend in this regard. Again, 71% of global consumers prefer healthier options in the food and beverage industry. At this point, the term healthy can take on different identities, but when we look at it from the point of view of bakery products and fat, the most important ones are;

•  Clean label – No additives

•  Functional foods

•  Personalized diet 

•  Trans fats and contaminants 

At this point, we can safely say that the vegetable oil industry has removed the issue of trans fats from the list, both legally and industrially it produces with a low trans-fat ratio, Cargill has taken an extra step in this context, stopped using partially hydrogenated components in Turkey and switched to trans <1% recipes in all its products.

The issue of time-generated contaminants is another issue that gradually attracts the attention of consumers, these issues are also being followed by the authorities, legal arrangements are made at the necessary points. In this sense we can say that our country follows the European Union regulations. According to the legal regulations, the food industry adjusts itself both in terms of technological infrastructure and in terms of product recipes.