Africa Becomes a Major Market for Portugal’s Soybean Oil


Jun 19, 2023 | Agricultural Markets News

Reading time: 2 minutes

Oilseeds production in Portugal comes down to less than 6,000 Ha of Sunflower, primarily crushed to supply Oil intended for the food market. In-country rapeseed production is not statistically significant, and Soybean production is non-existent. Despite a smaller in-country Oilseed production, Portugal boasts a sizeable crushing industry that imports seeds to extract Meal and Oil domestically. The domestic crushing sector can supply most of the Portuguese Meal market, except for Soybean Meal, where occasional imports are needed to meet the livestock sector demand.

Portugal is the fifth largest Soybean-crushing EU Member State (after the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and Italy). Crushers use installed capacity at a high level to ensure asset optimization. Soybeans are highly appreciated by those crushers who specialize in supplying the feed market. Nearly 90 percent of the country’s Soybean Meal demand is provided by Meals obtained by in-country crushing. On average, Portugal’s annual combined imports of Soybean and Soybean Meal amount to nearly 1.4 million MT.

Oilseed crushing capacity in Portugal consists of four processing plants managed by three companies, concentrated in the port of Lisbon area. The Sovena-Bunge partnership operates two crushing facilities located in Palença do Baixo, one of them devoted exclusively to Soybean crushing and another that can switch between rapeseed and sunflower, depending on price conditions. Iberol’s plant in Alhandra can also switch between the two main Oilseeds (Soybeans and Rapeseed). The crushing plant operated by Reagro crushes Soybeans. While the volume crushed can vary depending on the crushing margins, on average, Portugal crushes about 1.2 million MT of Soybeans. According to AgFlow data, Portugal imported 311,210 tons of Soybean from Brazil in Jan-May 2023.

Portugal’s Soybean Meal and Oil Market

The Portuguese feed industry is Portugal’s primary Soybean Meal consumer. Portugal is the 9th largest EU feed manufacturer. Poultry feed represents the largest category, accounting on average for nearly 45 percent of the feed production. However, Portugal is a minor player in the Soybean Meal import market, as, despite the limited in-country Oilseeds production, the installed Oilseed crushing capacity is relatively large. Portugal’s Oilseeds Meals imports are limited, and only Soybean Meal shows a minor imbalance. Portugal can import Soybean Meal through the Leixões, Aveiro, and Lisbon ports, equipped with unloading facilities for bulk agricultural products.

The average annual domestic Soybean Oil extraction amounts to 220 thousand MT. The biodiesel sector’s demand for Soybean Oil contributes to reducing the exportable supply and improving crushers’ margins. However, the competition by double-counting feedstock for compliance with biodiesel1 mandates has progressively eroded the share of Soybean Oil consumed for biodiesel processing in Portugal. With limited marketing opportunities other than the biofuel outlet, a large share of the domestically extracted Soybean Oil is exported to third countries.

In 2021, Portugal exported Soybean Oil worth $161 million, making it the world’s 19th largest exporter of Soybean Oil. In the same year, Soybean Oil was Portugal’s 104th most exported product. The leading destination of Soybean Oil exports from Portugal is Spain ($48 million), Angola ($42 million), Morocco ($41.6 million), Algeria ($13.6 million), and Cape Verde ($9.43 million). The fastest-growing export markets for Soybean Oil in Portugal between 2020 and 2021 were Morocco ($30.1 million), Spain ($18.1 million), and Algeria ($8.19 million).

In 2021, Portugal imported Soybean Oil worth $9.49 million, becoming the world’s 90th largest importer of Soybean Oil. In the same year, Soybean Oil was Portugal’s 721st most imported product. Portugal imports Soybean Oil primarily from: Spain ($9.15 million), Belgium ($262k), Germany ($33k), Brazil ($20.6k), and the Netherlands ($14.3k).

Other sources: USDA

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