Major Producing and Consuming Countries EU-27

Oils and Fats in the Market Place

Enlargement of the EU has brought some changes to the supply-demand equation in vegetable oils, but the biggest change results from the growing manufacture and use of biodiesel in Europe, produced mainly from rapeseed oil. The following points are worth noting:

  • EU-27 is heavily dependent for its supply of oils and fats on imported seeds and imported oils. In 2011/12 home-grown and imported seeds represented 64 and 36% of the total, respectively. For vegetable oils these figures were 66% and 34% with much of the home-produced oil being obtained from imported seed.

  • In contrast to large producer countries Europe makes use of a wider range of oils. In addition to the four major seed oils detailed in Table 1, there is a significant consumption of olive oil, of three animal fats (tallow, lard, and butter), and of lesser amounts of the lauric oils.

Table 1. Seed grown and oil imported and consumed (million tonnes) in EU-27 during 2011/12 (USDA figures, February 2013)
  Palm   5.25 2.67 2.21 5.13
  Rape 19.08 0.60 2.30 7.00 9.30
  Soya 1.29 0.38 1.04 0.88 1.98
  Sunflower 8.29 0.96 3.42 0.23 3.65
  Other 0.55 1.49 2.968 0.49 3.47

Total 29.21 8.68 12.39 10.81 23.54
"Other" will be mainly palmkernel and coconut, and olive oil grown mainly in the Mediterranean countries of Spain, Italy and Greece (see Olive oil).
Imported seed (mainly soybean) was 16.75 million tonnes.
Total figures include some nonfood uses other than industrial (e.g. animal feed).


  • Though not apparent in these figures, I have shown elsewhere that there is a marked variation between individual European countries. Some examples for 2007 are cited: rapeseed oil represented 26% of European consumption, but ranged from 50% in Germany to 1% in Spain, palm oil represented 16% of European consumption, but ranged from 34% in UK to 10% in Spain, olive oil represented 7% of European consumption, but exceeded 22% in Spain and Italy and was less than 1% in Germany and Poland, butter represented 6% of European consumption, but ranged from 15% in France to 1% in Spain.

  • In 2011/12 the division of vegetable oils between food and industrial use in Europe was 53 and 47%, respectively. For individual oils industrial use was: rapeseed oil (75%), soybean oil (44%), palm oil (43%), and sunflower oil (6%) showing clearly the impact of biodiesel production.

Updated March 2013