The term 'edible oils' generally refers to plant based oils that are manufactured for human consumption (yet may also include oils derived from animal fat) by extracting the oil from the plant by mechanical extraction (crushing or pressing) or solvent extraction. Most edible oils are derived from oilseeds and are commonly used for cooking and frying, yet are also being utilized for bio-fuels. The most widely consumed edible oil globally is palm oil, of which Indonesia is the largest producer (with 44% of world production in 2011), followed closely by soybean oil, of which China is the largest producer (with 24% of world production in 2011).
In the MedAgri region, the oilseed and edible oil sector has grown considerably over recent decades, with domestic consumption of oilseeds growing from about 8.9 million tons in 1990 to about 19.7 million tons in 2010, and domestic consumption of edible oils growing from about 1.2 million tons in 1990 to about 3.1 million tons in 2010.
Whilst the MedAgri region produces some oil seeds and edible oils, development of oil crops in the MedAgri region is limited because: (i) large areas of land are needed to grow oil crops to supply medium and large scale processing units, yet land areas are limited and large scale farmers are not interested in oil seed growing because it is particularly labor intensive; (ii) there is a lack of investment in medium or large scale processing units as production is not substantial; (iii) the introduction of soybean did not succeed because investment in large scale equipment (mowers) could not be made by farmers; (iv) governments did not provide any incentives for the development of oil seed growing. However, production of oil seeds has still grown over recent decades from about 6.1 million tons in 1990 to about 7.7 million tons in 2010. Groundnuts are the most produced oilseed in the MedAgri region (about 256 thousand tons in 2011), followed by cottonseed (about 220 thousand tons in 2011), with production concentrated in Egypt. Production of edible oil has also grown from 171 thousand tons in 1990 to about 484 thousand tons in 2010. Soybean oil is the main edible oil produced in the region (with about 367 thousand tons produced in the region in 2011, 83% by Egypt).
The region is by far a major a net importer of oil seeds and edible oils, with Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia being the largest importers of edible oils in North Africa. Edible oil imports have grown from about 1 million tons in 1990 to about 2.8 million tons in 2010, of which 90% of the region's domestic consumption was imported. Soybean oil is the main edible oil imported to the region (about 868 thousand tons in 2010), however Egypt is also a major importer of palm oil (about 1.3 million tons in 2010). Oil seed imports have also grown from about 2.8 million tons in 1990 to about 12 million tons in 2010, of which 61% of the region's domestic consumption was imported. Soybeans are the main oil crop imported to the region (with about 2.4 million tons in 2010).Source: FAOSTAT
For world and regional edible oil and oil seed production and trade statistics, please refer to ‘Production and trade’ in the resource menu below