Major Producing and Consuming Countries/Regions - General View

Oils and Fats in the Marketplace

Comments on the figures in the Table

  • The figures relate to countries and regions with the largest consumption (15 countries), largest production (7 countries), largest exports (7 countries) and largest imports (10 countries). Blank spaces are not zero but figures-not-available from the USDA source.

  • Not surprisingly, production levels are largest in SE Asian countries producing palm oil and in the countries of North and South America and China producing soybean oil. In terms of location, oil production does not correspond exactly with oilseed production since oilseeds may be exported before crushing. In contrast, palm oil can only be exported as oil and therefore palm oil is produced and exported from the same countries.

Table 1


  • For any country/region, (production plus imports) is close to (consumption plus exports). Small differences between these two totals result in changing levels of stocks.

  • For consumption, the list is headed by two rich countries (Europe and USA) and by two highly populated countries (China and India). For the most part the countries in this list have high populations (mostly in excess of 100 million) and/or are significant producers of palm oil or soybean oil.

  • Interesting results are associated with countries with low populations such as Malaysia, Argentina, Canada, and Ukraine (see Table). Because of the limited local demand these countries are significant exporters. Australia could be added to this list but output in that country has fallen from almost 2,500 tonnes of seed (mainly rapeseed and cottonseed) to under 1,000 tonnes in 2006/07 because of severe drought conditions. In 2008/09, it was again around 2500 tonnes.

  • The figures in the final column represent average consumption per person for both food and non-food purposes and are given in kg/person/year. They are of limited use but provide useful comparisons between countries. The world average of 21.2 kg/person/year in 2011/12 applies only to the major vegetable oils and is lower by about 20% than sets of figures that include animal fats. Nonfood uses (animal feed, the conventional oleochemical industry, and biodiesel) now represent about 25% of total consumption based on vegetable and animal fats. However, the oleochemical industry previously concentrated in USA, Western Europe, Japan, is now increasingly in Malaysia and Indonesia with indigenous supplies of the palm and palmkernel oils extensively used by the oleochemical industry. The average consumption in Malaysia (159 kg/person/year) relates to the large industrial use along with the modest demand for food use consequent on the small population in that country. Oleochemical and biodiesel production is also reflected in the well-above-average figures for Europe, USA, Argentina, Brazil, and Indonesia.

  • Three countries (Bangladesh, India, and Nigeria) have lower levels of 11-14 kg/person. However, it has to be appreciated that lipid consumption for food purposes comes also from sources beyond those being considered here, such as dairy products (cheese, cream) other than butter, from meat and fish, and from nuts and chocolate.

Updated March 2013