Major Producing and Consuming Countries USA

Oils and Fats in the Market Place

Figures for production and trade during the four years 2008/09 to 2011/12 in oilseeds and vegetable oils in the US are summarised in Table 1. In recent years there has been a marked fluctuation in US production of soybeans. There has also been a significant increase in the export of soybeans and a smaller increase in soybean oil export. These are the consequence of increasing imports to China.

US production, consumption, and trade of oilseeds and vegetable oils are dominated by soybeans. This is apparent in the figures in Table 1. The USA is the largest producer, exporter, and crusher of soybeans and second only to China in the consumption of soybean oil. Other vegetable oils consumed in the US are rapeseed oil (imported mainly from Canada), corn oil and cottonseed oil both produced domestically, and tropical oils (palm, palmkernel, and coconut) imported from South East Asia. In addition, the USA is a significant producer, exporter, and consumer of tallow.

After making allowance, particularly for much of the tallow and some of the lauric oils for nonfood uses, soybean oil is the major oil consumed as human food in the US. Because of the presence of linolenic acid and the high level of linoleic acid, soybean oil may require brush (light) hydrogenation or partial hydrogenation before food use. There is now concern that this process produces undesirable trans acids. These have now to be declared on food labels in the USA and most manufacturers have modified their recipes so that the level of trans acids is so low that trans-free status can be claimed. There has also been increased interest in low-linolenic varieties of soybean oil, which can be used as frying oils and salad oils without brush hydrogenation. Partial hydrogenation to produce the required characteristics for spreads is being replaced by interesterification of blends of soybean oil and more saturated oils.

Other useful information about soybean and other oils in the USA can be found in the web site Soystats 2011.


Table 1

Updated March 2013