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Índices para los precios internacionales de las semillas oleaginosas, los aceites vegetales, y las harinas y tortas

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Last updated in February 2021

Commentary on the recent development of prices *

The FAO price index for oilseeds increased for an eighth consecutive month in January, gaining 12.8 points (or 10.6 percent) and marking a seven-year high, while the oilmeal index – after stagnating in December 2020 – posted a sharp increase of 16.2 points (or 14.0 percent) to reach its highest level since May 2014. Meanwhile, the vegetable oil index continued to rise, up 7.7 points (or 5.8 percent) from December and reaching an eight-and-a-half year high. In January, all three price indices tracking the oilseeds complex remained well above their year-earlier levels.

The latest increase of the oilseed index mainly reflected higher soybean, rapeseed and sunflowerseed prices. International soybean quotations rose uninterruptedly since mid-2020 and, in January, reached their highest level since February 2014. Main factors behind the increase in soybean prices included tightening supplies in the United States of America (US), where – due to the delayed arrival of South America’s new crop – soybean exports to China continued unrelentingly, resulting in reduced forecasts for 2020/21 US ending stocks. In addition, soybean prices were bolstered by spill-over effects from surging international maize values. In South America, where much of the 2021 crop was still at the reproductive stage, dry conditions prevailed across the region, which, together with protracted strikes of port workers in Argentina, underpinned prices. However, towards end-January, international soybean quotations eased somewhat, owing to beneficial precipitation in some of the region’s main growing areas. In the case of rapeseed, price quotations remained on the upward trajectory observed since April 2020, underpinned by robust crushing demand from the European Union, as well as tightening supplies in Canada. As for sunflowerseed, international prices rose to their highest level since September 2012, propelled by depleting availabilities in the Black Sea region following lower-than-expected harvests, while export supplies in the Russian Federation turned out below expectations following a hike in the country’s export duty for sunflowerseed effective in January.

With regard to oilmeals, the pronounced rise in FAO’s price index was primarily driven by firmer soymeal values, which had stalled in December 2020. The renewed price strength largely stemmed from robust feed demand in China tied to the continued rapid reconstitution of the country’s hog herd – notwithstanding reports of a new African swine fever instance in a southern province, the impact of which seems to have been limited.

As for vegetable oils, the index’ eighth consecutive monthly increase in January reflected rising palm, soy, sunflowerseed and rapeseed oil prices. International palm oil quotations climbed to eight-and-a-half year highs in January, chiefly underpinned by lower-than-earlier-anticipated output in both Indonesia and Malaysia owing to excessive rainfall. In the case of Malaysia, palm oil production also continued to be affected by severe shortages in migrant labour force. Additionally, successive hikes in Indonesia’s palm oil export duties (both the tax and the levy charged on crude oil palm shipments) were expected to weigh on the country’s export supplies. In the meantime, international soyoil prices rose for the eighth month in succession, fuelled by reduced export availabilities and prolonged strikes in Argentina. As for sunflowerseed and rapeseed oils, continued price strength stemmed from, respectively, lingering global supply tightness due to sharply reduced 2020/21 sunflowerseed harvests and higher rapeseed values following a rebound in global import demand.    


* Effective 2 July 2020, the base period of FAO’s price indices has been shifted from 2002–2004 to 2014–2016.

  For more details on this revision, please see the feature article of the June 2020 issue of Food Outlook.



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Explanatory notes:

FAO's price indices are calculated using the Laspeyres formula; the weights used are derived from export values of each commodity for the 2014–16 period. The indices are based on the following international spot prices for nearest forward shipment (provided by Oil World):

  • 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 vegetable oils 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.

NB: For the period 1961–1969, only annualized values are available and the indices have been calculated using export unit values extracted from FAOSTAT.