Dutch imports and exports of oil seeds, oils, fats and associated products grew strongly in 2017, both in volume and in value. With over 10 billion euros, the oils and fat industry is among the top three of Dutch exports of agricultural products (CBS/WageningenUR). The sector exported more than the horticulture sector (9.1 billion euros) and the dairy and eggs sector (8.9 billion euros). This appears from the definitive figures from Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union.
The European Union is not self-sufficient when it comes to oil seeds, oils and fats. For that reason, the oil and fat industry is highly internationally oriented and the Netherlands is leading in Europe. Over 20% of European exports and imports run via the Netherlands. For the sector, the unrestricted import of raw materials is crucial. New free trade agreements and deepening of existing trade agreements can boost the export of oil seeds, oils, fats and associated products even further.
Frans Claassen, director of MVO - The Netherlands Oils and Fats Industry: ‘Our international orientation requires a level playing field, where trade rules are respected. The emergence of protectionist measures is a concern to us. Our industry needs free trade and open borders. The looming trade war with the United States and the pending Brexit (the United Kingdom is worth 890 million euros in exports) may have huge consequences.’
Total exports have risen by 25% from 8.1 billion euros in 2016 to 10.1 billion euros in 2017. In volume, this export rose by 17%. The main export countries for the oil and fat industry in Europe are: Germany (35%), Belgium (16%), France (10%) and the United Kingdom (9%). The biggest risers (+ over 0.5 billion euros) were the vegetable oils. Exports of animal fat also saw a significant increase. In 2017 this showed a growth of 44% to 225 million euros. This was partly due to the opening of export markets in Asia and greater demand from Scandinavia.
The MVO industry imports a wide range of oil seeds, oils, fats and associated products (including biodiesel, fatty acids and lecithin) from more than 100 countries worldwide. The main suppliers are Germany, Indonesia, the United States, Malaysia, Brazil and Argentina. Import figures show a considerable rise in value: from 9.8 billion euros to 11.8 billion euros. This rise can be explained by rising prices, but also by 10% volume growth (15.1 million tons in 2016/16.6 million tons in 2017). This is mainly due to vegetable oils, biodiesel, fatty acids and UCOs (used cooking oils). In vegetable oils, there was particularly strong growth in imports of corn oil, sunflower oil, linseed oil, groundnut oil and palm oil.
In terms of volume, palm oil imports recovered (an increase of 318,000 tonnes) to the average level of recent years (2.6 million tonnes in the period 2013 - 2017). The shift in imports of palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia to Central and South America continued in 2017. In 2013, 85% of the palm oil came from Indonesia and Malaysia. In 2017 this percentage fell to 56%, following a rise in imports from Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras (from 8% to 30% over the period 2013 - 2017).