Sources of Information

There are two major sources of useful information detailed here. There are other smaller sites and readers may care to share their insights with me.

Oil World (ISTA Mielke GmbH, is a Hamburg company devoted to the market analysis of oils and fats. It was started in 1958 by Siegfried Mielke and is now managed by his son Thomas Mielke. Material is published daily, weekly, monthly, and annually and has to be purchased. I get a lot of information from the (very large) Oil World Annual published around June each year. This provides data on area under cultivation, production, yields, exports, imports, crushing, and disappearance for 17 commodities generally over a five-year period for oilseeds, oils and fats, and oilmeals. Information is provided for the whole world and for over 150 individual countries. In addition there are periodical publications on individual countries such as China and India, on products such as biodiesel, and reviews looking back and forward such as Oil World 2020 (published 2002) providing information from 1975 with forecasts to 2020. An earlier Oil World publication in 1988 covered the period 1958–2007.

Table 1 shows predictions made in 1988 and in 2002 along with the outcome in selected years between 1990 and 2005. It is interesting to note that predictions have been too conservative and that over the period covered in the Table production has run ahead of forecasts. Further comment is made in the legend to the Table.

Table 1. Production (million tonnes) of 17 commodity oils and fats forecast in 1988 and in 2002 for five-year periods compared with actual figures for selected years
(figures are taken from appropriate Oil World publications)
Forecast made in 1988 Forecast made in 2002 Actual figures
Years Production Years Production Years Production
88-92 80.7 86-90 75.7 1990 80.1
93-97 92.3 91-95 86.8 1995 94.4
98-02 105.3 95-00 105.1 2000 114.7
03-07 116.4 01-05 126.5 2005 141.0
    06-10 146.7    
    11-15 165.7    
    16-20 184.8    
As a first approximation average figures for a five-year period can be taken as roughly the same as the production in the middle year. So the 1988 prediction for 2003-07 will correspond to a figure of about 116.4 million tonnes for 2005. This is to be compared with the outcome of 141 million tonnes. From the 2002 forecast a figure of about 147 million tonnes is predicted for 2008 and short of the production level in that year of 160 million tonnes.


USDA figures.  A second source of useful information is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is revised each month and is free. Put "USDA-FAS" into Google and follow directions for “oilseeds”. The information is for 7 oilseeds, 9 vegetable oils, and 8 oil meals. It includes production, trade (imports and exports), consumption by commodity and by selected countries/regions, and prices.

Updated February 2012