Learn how canola oil gets from the farm to the table:
1. Canola was developed by plant scientists at the Universities of Saskatchewan and Manitoba in the 1970s using traditional plant-breeding techniques and is now one of Canada’s most important crops. Canola is grown on over 43,000 family farms, mostly in the prairie provinces. About 20 million tonnes of canola seed is produced each year contributing about one-quarter of the revenue that farmers receive for their crops.
2. Canola is a plant and a member of a large family of plants called crucifers. About 90% of Canada’s canola has now been modified using biotechnology to make it tolerant to some herbicides. Biotechnology is a highly regulated industry in Canada, and it can take up to 15 years of research, testing and evaluation before a new biotech crop is approved for human consumption by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
3. Large sieves are used to remove the weed seeds, stems, pods and other materials from the canola seed after it is graded for quality according to standards set by the Canadian Grain Commission. The seed is then ready to be processed into canola oil and canola meal. About 90% of the canola grown in Canada is exported to countries around the world. Our top buyers are the US, China, Japan, the EU and Mexico.
4. Canola processing facilities are located close to where canola is grown. Canada has 14 crushing and refining facilities that can crush 10 million tonnes of canola annually. Canola seeds go through a series of heating and pressing mechanisms to draw out the oils at the right temperature and quality. The oil is then refined to improve the colour, flavour and shelf life. The solids remaining after the oil is removed are processed into protein-rich canola meal that is used as livestock feed.
5. Canola oil is a heart healthy oil that is low in saturated fat, and a source of omega-3 polyunsaturates. Canola oil’s neutral taste, light texture and high smoke point make it one of the most versatile oils in your kitchen. It is also a key ingredient for the food industry.
6. Canola oil is used in the industrial production of paints, sealants, plastics and even inks and cosmetics. As well canola meal’s high protein content makes it an efficient source of protein for livestock, poultry, and fish. In fact, research shows that canola meal increases milk production by one litre per dairy cow per day, compared to diets containing meal from other protein sources.
7. Canola-based biofuel is a renewable, sustainable energy source that can be mixed with petroleum-based diesel fuels to lower GHG emissions in every-day vehicles as well as heavy duty equipment. Supplementing Canadian diesel with a minimum of 5% renewable biodiesel would be equivalent to removing 1 million cars from the road each year.
8. After refining, canola oil is bottled and shipped to grocery stores, or sold in bulk to restaurants, and food processors across North America. Canola oil accounts for more than half of all vegetable oil consumed in Canada and is third on the list worldwide, behind palm oil and soybean oil. Canadian canola oil production and consumption creates $29.9 billion dollars each year.