Trade and markets
 > Economic > Trade and Markets > Commodity markets > Price indices for oilcrops and derived products

Last Update: March 2017

Commentary on the recent development of price indices

In February, the FAO price indices for oilseeds and oilmeals appreciated further, although at a reduced pace compared to January. By contrast, the FAO price index for vegetable oils dropped markedly, reversing the upward trend observed over the preceding three months. 

The price indices for oilseeds and oilmeals posted marginal gains, supported by developments in the world soybean and soymeal markets. During the first half of February, soybean prices firmed, as heavy rainfall in some regions of Brazil increased the disease pressure on crops in the ground and caused delays in moving freshly harvested soy to the country’s ports. Subdued new crop sales by Brazilian  farmers (due to the Real’s continued strength vis-à-vis the US dollar) also contributed to the firmness in world soybean prices – as did persistently strong demand for US old crop supplies and reports of tightening US stocks.

Interestingly, towards the end of the month, soybean prices eased again on (i) reports of improved weather, rapid harvest progress and above average yields in Brazil and Paraguay, and (ii) news of lower than earlier anticipated crop losses in Argentina. After torrential rains had caused extensive flooding in Argentina’s key soybean growing regions, from mid-January onward, the country’s crop benefited from mostly beneficial weather, thus permitting to raise production forecasts. The release, in the United States, of first planting forecasts for 2017/18 – which point to a further significant expansion in the US soybean area – also weighed on international prices.

As to soybean meal, the month of February saw less upward pressure on international prices, compared to January. Higher global soybean crushing – driven by both growing dependence of global vegetable oil consumption on soybeans and the arrival of new crop supplies in South America – boosted global soymeal supplies.      

Rapeseed quotations stayed firm in February, underpinned by continued supply tightness and robust import demand. Based on current estimates, 2016/17 end-of-season stocks of rapeseed are expected to drop to multi-year lows in Canada (the world’s top supplier) as well as in the EU and China (the two leading rapeseed importers).

With respect to international vegetable oil markets, in February, subdued global transactions coincided with a further recovery in world production, led by palm oil. International vegetable oil prices eased accordingly, as reflected by FAO’s price index. However, inventory levels remained relatively low in both exporting and importing countries, limiting the fall in prices. With respect to individual oils, palm oil export values dropped to 3-month lows as production in Southeast Asia picked up. It is important to note, however, that palm oil inventories in Malaysia and Indonesia remained unusually small, keeping global export supplies below regular levels. International soyoil quotations also dropped to levels not seen since October 2016. The drop was primarily driven by prospects of accelerated soybean crushing – as new South American supplies become available – and a slower uptake of soyoil by biodiesel producers in Argentina and the United States. International prices for rapeseed and sunflower-seed oil also lost strength, contributing to the drop in the index.

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.