We all have one…a favorite snack. But do you really know what you are munching on? The National Sunflower Association gathers in Bismarck to find out what consumers want and what role their industry can take in providing consumers with a healthy, yet tasty product. Ag Reporter Sarah Gustin introduces you to some of the newest developments in the sunflower industry. Walk into any grocery store and it’s easy to see…the options are endless. Sally Lyons Wyatt is a snacking expert. Lyons Wyatt says consumers want their snack to be portable, convenient and of course, nutritious. But they also want a treat. (Sally Lyons Wyatt / Symphony IRI Group) “SNACKS PROVIDE THAT INDULGENCE AND THAT ABILITY TO REWARD YOURSELF FOR SOMETHING. AND SO I THINK THAT IS WHAT CONSUMERS WANT. THAT BALANCE BETWEEN SOMETHING THAT CAN BE INDULGENT FOR THEM AND THEN SOMETHING THAT CAN PROVIDE A MORE HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE.” That healthy concern is what makes sunflowers an attractive option. (Sally Lyons Wyatt / Symphony IRI Group) “SUNFLOWERS AND THE oilS ARE JUST POISED AT A REALLY GOOD TIME IN OUR INDUSTRY TO GET OUT THERE AND TO GET THAT MESSAGE ACROSS TO CONSUMERS.” That’s where sunflower researchers are hoping one oil will take hold in the market. Not so much in snack foods, but in baked goods. (John SandBakken / NSA) “IT’S AN OIL AND THE GREATEST ALTERNATIVE IS GOING TO BE IN THE BAKEN FOOD INDUSTRY. WHAT THEY ARE LOOKING AT IS TO GET AWAY FROM HIGHER SaTURATED Or FULLY HYDRONGENATED PRODUCTS. AND IT’S A WHOLE NEW AREA THAT WILL OPEN UP.” Sandbakken says the high stearic/high oleic sunflower oil is not only a healthy alternative, but also has unique properties which allow it to harden..giving certain foods texture and firmness. (Dr. Alberto Leon / Nutrisun) “THE FOOD INDUSTRY IS VERY HAPPY FOR A COUPLE OF REASONS. IT IS AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE TRANS FAT AND IT IS ALSO ALTERNATIVE TO THE PALMETIC OIL, BECAUSE PALM IS WELLKNOWN TO BE ANOIL THAT IS NOT AS A HEALTHY AS SOME OTHER OILS BECAUSE OF THE PARMET CONTENT.” Dr. Leon says they started testing the oil in 1992. He says the oil was released into the markets in Argentina and Europe last year. And growers are now contracting acres here in the U S to start growing this new oil. In Bismarck for KX News, I am Sarah Gustin. The number of acres contracted in the United States is 4-thousand.