New vegetable-oil based lubricant to be made from Ontario soybeans

EN-EcoLube(nologo)webBy Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – A new vegetable oil-based multi-purpose lubricant for sale in Canada is about to become a bit more local.

Already manufactured in Toronto, Smart Earth Corporation’s Ecolube product will soon be made from Ontario-grown soybeans as well.

Introduced by parent company Linneaus Plant Sciences Inc. as an innovative green substitute for popular petroleum-based spray lubricants Ecolube’s plant-based ingredients make it an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional products.

To date, it has been manufactured using high oleic vegetable oils from the United States and western Canada, but Guelph-based Soy 20/20 has secured a supply of high oleic soybean oil processed from Ontario grown soybeans for its clients. Upcoming production runs of lubricant-type products will be made from locally grown oils.

This is part of Soy 20/20’s efforts to grow Canadian market demand for products containing high oleic soybean oils. As that demand increases, Canadian farmers will begin to grow high oleic soybean crops that will supply the needs of both food and non-food markets.

“We’re excited at what the future potential of the bioproducts might mean for the Canadian soybean industry,” says Jeff Schmalz, CEO of Soy 20/20, an organization dedicated to expanding markets for Canadian soybeans.

For farmers, this brings the potential of premiums for growing the high oleic soybeans needed for these kinds of innovative products.

Ecolube is the first in what is expected to become a whole category of vegetable-oil based products that Smart Earth plans to bring to the marketplace.

According to Schmalz, retailers generally want more than one product offering if they carry a brand; Smart Earth currently has a grease and a bar and chain oil in development to add to its offering.

Ecolube is currently available in more than 40 TSC stores in Ontario and Manitoba, as well as from 19 independent retailers, and through six major distributors.

“The big win so far has been TSC Stores where Smart Earth Ecolube is on the shelf beside the other traditional products as well as in off-shelf displays,” says Schmalz. “It’s part of Soy 20/20’s mandate to work with emerging bioproducts companies to help shepherd new products through commercialization and into the market place.”

There are plenty of market opportunities beyond retail.

For example, Ontario is the third largest food processing jurisdiction in North America, so Smart Earth is pursuing food-grade accreditation for its products which will open up food and beverage processing facilities as potential new markets.

“The long-term goal is for all Smart Earth products to be made from Ontario or Canadian-grown oils, so Ecolube is the start of an exciting new frontier for the Canadian soybean industry and the bioproducts market,” says Schmalz.

Schmalz estimates the current size of the Canadian petroleum-based spray lubricant category to be around $40 million annually.

Smart Earth’s long-term goal is to capture up to 20 per cent of that volume with environmentally friendly, vegetable-oil derived products.

“We greatly appreciate all the help Soy 20/20 has provided in building our Smart Earth eco-friendly brand of lubricants,” says Jack Grushcow, President of Linnaeus Plant Sciences Inc. “We believe that by using locally produced soybean oil, producers will see the advantage of switching to more environmentally friendly lubricants that deliver performance while at the same time benefitting the production side of their business.”

Soy 20/20 brings together government, academic and industry partners to stimulate and seize new global bioscience opportunities for Canadian soybeans.

Funding for Soy 20/20 is provided under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, and by Grain Farmers of Ontario.

Photo courtesy of Soy 20/20.