Oilseeds, Oils and Fats, and Seed Meals in 2011/12

Individual products are detailed in other sections, but it is useful to have an overall view of the size of these commodities (see Table 1). The astute reader will be able to draw many conclusions from these data. Some points that interest me are discussed below. Figures are generally given for harvest years such as 2011/12. This relates to harvests in the Northern Hemisphere in 2011 and in the Southern Hemisphere in 2012. We are now in the incomplete 2012/13 harvest year for which forecasts are available. Figures for the recent past may be changed slightly as more reliable data become available. It is no small task to obtain the required data, especially from less developed countries.


Production of oilseeds, oils and fats, and oilmeals in 2011/12 and ten years earlier using USDA figures (Feb. 2013). Data are expressed in million tonnes (mt)
  Soya 184.8 28.9 124.9 238.7 42.4 179.4
  Cotton       46.6 5.3 15.8
  Peanut (a)       35.3 5.1 6.2
  Sunflower 21.4 7.4 8.3 33.5 15.1 13.1
  Rape (canola) 36.0 13.1 19.9 61.6 24.3 35.8
  Palmkernel       13.3 5.9 7.0
  Copra/coconut   3.2   5.5 3.6 1.9
  Olive         3.4  
  Palm   25.3     50.7  
  Fish     5.8     4.5

  Total production 324.7 92.7 182.5 441.7 155.7 266.7
  Total exports 62.4 33.0 52.9 109.6.9 63.5 80.9

(a) Also known as groundnut


USDA do not provide data for corn oil (~2.5 mt), sesame oil, linseed oil, and castor oil (each between 0.5 and 1.0 mt, nor for butter (~7 mt), lard (~8 mt), tallow (~9 mt), and fish oil (~1 mt).

  • Figures for seeds and meals are dominated by soybeans. Soya beans, grown mainly in North and South America, are the most important source of protein meal used mainly for animal feed and the second largest source of oil after palm oil. In 2011/12, Ttese two oils represented 60% of the nine major vegetable oils detailed by USDA compared with 58% ten years ago.

  • The nine vegetable oils can be categorised as listed below with the figures being total production (million tonnes) in 2011/12 and % of total vegetable oil production (155.7 million tonnes).

    • Four major vegetable oils (palm, soybean, rape, and sunflower) 132.5 mt, 85.1%.
    • Three minor oils (cotton, groundnut, olive) 13.8 mt, 8.9%.
    • Two lauric oils (palmkernel and coconut), distinguished from other oils by their characteristic fatty acid composition 9.5 mt, 6.1%.
    • In round figures exports represent about 25% of seeds, 41% of oils, and 30% of oil meals.
  • Comparing figures over the ten years between 2001/02 and 2011/12, it is apparent that total production of vegetable oils increased by 68%. The reader can make similar calculations for individual oils and for oilseeds and oil meals from the figures provided in Table 1. For example, production of palm oil doubled over this period.

Updated: March, 2013