Rabobank: Emerging Markets Set to Gain from Rising African Vegetable Oil Imports

The gap between Africa’s vegetable oil production and consumption is expected to widen further, triggering additional vegetable oil imports into the continent. Rabobank forecasts an additional 3.5m tonnes of vegetable oil imports (a 33% increase) by 2030, according to Rabobank’s latest report ‘Rising African Vegetable Oil Imports in the Next Decade, Emerging Markets Set to Gain’ Africa offers good potential for palm oil exports from South East Asia due to its competitive price advantage.

“Rabobank forecasts additional 3.5 million tonnes of vegetable oil imports by 2030 due to population growth in Africa. An increase of current consumption per capita will have an even stronger impact”, says Vito Martielli, RaboResearch senior analyst Grains and Oilseeds.

Report highlights:

  • North Africa will remain the key importing region for a multitude of vegetable oil; importing sunflower oil from the Black Sea region, soy oil from the Americas and palm from South East Asia.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa will see the highest consumption growth, driven by strong population growth and a further per-capita consumption rise.
  • West Africa will become the most important consumption region, surpassing North Africa. It will see the biggest gap between vegetable oil consumption and production triggering more vegetable oil imports. In the medium term (over the next five years), Rabobank expects the region to remain a strong net importer. Where palm oil has good potential to be imported into west Africa.
  • East Africa offers the most interesting trade opportunities for palm oil, because of South East Asia’s proximity to Africa.
  • African markets in need of supply will source from multiple emerging markets (South-East Asia, South America, Black Sea Region), but the price advantage will support palm oil imports.
  • Increase in palm oil production in West Africa is not enough to meet regional demand. The import dependency can only decrease if viable options to boost local palm oil production are found. In this case more re-export of palm oil in West Africa can be expected.
  • Increased demand of vegetable oil potentially drives more investments in African refining capacity.

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