OILS AND FATS IN THE MARKET PLACE


PRICES OF COMMODITY OILS


The high prices for vegetable oils attract a good deal of media attention. Figures in Table 1 and Figure 1 relate to European prices for selected oils in Rotterdam (except for the Malaysian palm oil). Prices are quoted in US$/tonne and changes in currency levels further affect the price of these commodities in countries where the local currency is not pegged to the dollar. Nor do the figures allow for the effect of inflation. From the 1950s until the 2007/08 surge in prices, the real cost of most oils and oilseeds declined by about 3% per year, corresponding to a halving of price each 20-25 years. It is apparent from Table 1 that in the recent past prices have fluctuated markedly, sometimes falling and sometimes rising quite sharply. The fall in prices during 2011/12 has continued in the early months of 2012/13.

Table 1. Annual average vegetable oil prices (US$/tonne) between 2001/02 and 2011/12 (USDA Feb 2013).
Rapeseed palm sunflower soyabean
  2001/02 451 329 587 412
  2002/03 588 421 592 534
  2003/04 670 481 663 633
  2004/05 660 392 703 545
  2005/06 770 416 635 573
  2006/07 852 655 846 771
  2007/08 1410 1058 1639 1327
  2008/09 868 633 837 826
  2009/10 927 793 956 924
  2010/11 1367 1154 1404 1306
  2011/12 1258 1032 1254 1241
Monthly figures show a larger fluctuation than annual figures and maximum monthly - prices in 2008 were palm ($1291), soybean ($1537), rapeseed ($1577), and sunflower ($2045).

prices

Figure 1. Annual average vegetable oil prices (US$/tonne) between 2001/02 and 2011/12 (USDA Feb 2013).


Price changes result from a mis-match of supply and demand influenced by the following factors:


F.D. Gunstone

James Hutton Institute (and MRS Lipid Analysis Unit), Invergowrie, Dundee (DD2 5DA), Scotland

Lipid Library
Author Updated: March, 2013 Credits/disclaimer AOCS