Rapeseed oil is one of the most important vegetable oils used in food as well as biodiesel. Today, rapeseed is the oil plant of Northern Europe and a key raw material for AAK.
Rapeseed as raw material
Outside Europe, the dominant producers are Canada, China and Australia. Rapeseed is an annual crop planted either in autumn (winter varieties) or in spring (summer varieties). The winter varieties have a longer vegetation period and give a better yield but can only be grown in areas with mild winter climate. In Europe, winter varieties are dominating, whereas in Canada only summer rapeseed is grown. The harvest period in the Northern Hemisphere for winter varieties starts in late July, and in late August or early September for summer varieties.
The importance of rapeseed for AAK
Rapeseed is a very important raw material for AAK and one of few raw materials that the company is crushing in its own facilities.
AAK can offer oils from traditional seeds and a range of speciality varieties. Much of the rapeseed used in AAK’s products is grown in Sweden, where farms have increased their output in recent years. Through close cooperation with farmers, AAK is able to maintain control of the entire value chain, from the production of raw material to finished products. The rapeseed meal that remains after oil extraction is used as animal feed.
From an agricultural sustainability perspective, rapeseed is a very suitable crop to include in crop rotations with, for example, wheat and corn. When including rapeseed in crop rotation cycles it improves drainage and soil water retention, soil structure and resilience, as well as future nutrient availability. The plants furthermore provide up to eleven months of ground cover to restrict the harmful effects of wind and water erosion on soils over the vulnerable winter months. It can also provide valuable late summer protection against moisture loss. Rapeseed has additionally shown to have an overall positive effect on crop health and therefore causes a decrease in risks and costs on farm level.
In AAK we are using Life-Cycle Assessments (LCAs) to analyze the impact of our rapeseed supply chains globally, but also in comparison to other oil crops. This way we get full insight into the climate impact of our supply chains and can work towards minimizing it and offer the best solutions to our customers.
We are partnering with the Research Institute of Sweden (RISE) to assess indicators like climate change (CO2 emissions per kg produced), land use (m2) and water resource depletion (m3 water) at different stages in the supply chain like cultivation, transportation and processing. Based on these insights we can offer our customers the most sustainable rapeseed supply chains globally.
AAK is working together with ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) for certified sustainable rapeseed oil (ISCC Plus certificate).
ISCC was developed through an open multi-stakeholder process involving around 250 international associations, corporations, research institutions, and NGOs. As a forum for stakeholder dialogue, the ISCC association was inaugurated in Berlin in January 2010. Today, it has more than 100 members within agriculture, processing, manufacturing, research, and conversion and protection.
The focus of the ISCC Plus standard lies on zero deforestation of important areas such as high biodiversity areas, high carbon stock areas or nationally and internationally protected areas. Furthermore, important principles on good agricultural practices (soil, water and air), labor rights, human rights and land rights have been defined. These are continuously developed for further improvement.
While agricultural producers are subject to sustainability certification, processors, traders and manufacturers are subject to certification of traceability, good management and GHG emission reduction. ISCC is a risk-based standard. Certification is conducted by independent third-party certification bodies, which must be accredited and ISCC recognized.
AAK is currently able to supply ISCC Plus certified rapeseed oil and high-oleic rapeseed oil from our Karlshamn facility in Sweden.