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Last Update: December 2016

Commentary on the recent development of price indices

The month of November saw an upward move in prices across the oilseed complex. FAO’s price indices for oilseeds and oilmeals rose by about 2 points (or 1 percent), while the price index for vegetable oils posted a 7.6 point (or 4.5 percent) month-on-month increase. All three indices fared above the levels recorded in the corresponding month of last year.

The oilseed index remained relatively stable, mainly reflecting steady soybean prices, which, in November, averaged 1 percent above their October value. However, during the course of the month, soybean prices changed direction several times. On one hand, confirmation of the United States’ best-ever harvest has increased the possibility of a record-large global output in 2016/17, hence exerting downward pressure on prices. Indeed, FAO’s preliminary 2016/17 forecast for global soybean production was raised to 336 million tonnes, outpacing global consumption by 1 million tonnes. On the other hand, soybean prices received support from persistently strong global import demand – at a time when the United States serve as the world’s sole supplier. Furthermore, some concerns remain regarding South America’s recently started soybean season. While, in most of Brazil, weather conditions have been beneficial for plantings and crop development, in Argentina, excessive moisture levels substantially delayed planting operations, and weather developments in the coming weeks will be critical for crop development.

As to oilmeals, the price of soymeal continues to drive FAO’s meal index. In November, trailing the development of the world soybean market, international soymeal quotations stabilized around USD 340 per tonne, marking a 20 percent drop from their June 2016 peak. Main factors weighing on soymeal prices include continued ample availabilities world-wide, together with lower than anticipated import demand – a situation that is expected to persist in the coming months.

Regarding vegetable oils, in November, FAO’s price index increased by a further 4.5 percent, prolonging the upward trend observed since the start of the current year. Reflecting overall tightness in global vegetable oils supplies, the index climbed to its highest level since August 2014. The rise was led by palm oil, whose values reached a 27-month high amid lower than anticipated production in Southeast Asia, reduced global inventory levels, and expectations that the global supply tightness could last until early 2017. International soyoil values also appreciated, driven by persistently strong import demand and concerns about below-potential crushings in South America. Furthermore, the United States’ recent announcement of higher than anticipated biofuel consumption targets for 2017 is expected to boost US industry demand for biofuel feedstock, including soybean oil – an outlook that has lent fresh support to vegetable oil prices. 



Components of the oilseeds price index: Soybeans, US, cif Rotterdam; Copra Phil./Indo., cif NW Eur. port; Rapeseed, Europe, 00, cif Hamburg; Linseed, Canada, No.1, cif NW Eur. port; Sunseed, EU, cif Rotterdam (please note that sunseed has been added to the index only in January 1976).

Components of the oils/fats price index: Soybean oil, Dutch , fob ex-mill; Sun oil, EU, fob NW Eur. port; Rape oil, Dutch, fob ex-mill; Groundnut oil, any origin, cif Rotterdam; Cotton oil, US, PBSY, fob Gulf; Coconut oil, Phil./Indo., cif Rotterdam; Palmkernel oil, Mal./Indo., cif Rotterdam; Palm oil crude, cif NW Eur. port; Linseed oil, any origin, ex-tank, Rotterdam; Castor oil, ex-tank Rotterdam.

Components of the meals/cakes price index: Soy meal, 44/45%, fob ex-mill Hamburg; Sun pell., 37/38%, Arg., cif Rotterdam; Rape meal, 34%, fob ex-mill Hamburg; Copra exp. pell., Phil., domestic; Palmkernel  exp., 21/23%, cif Rotterdam.