The UAE Becomes the 28th Largest Soybean Exporter


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Soybean oil’s high nutritional value and taste have become unique selling points in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) vegetable oil market. Due to the onset of lifestyle diseases, consumers have become more health-conscious. The UAE Government is also not sparing any effort to enhance the consciousness amongst the population regarding the ill effects of junk food and obesity associated with it. The consumption of soya oil has been steadily increasing since 2000 due to the increased availability of other vegetable oils and awareness about oils like olive oil. Soybean meal’s popularity in the poultry and aqua feed industry has also increased.

The primary driver for the price direction of soyabean oil has been the strong growth demand. With the growth in the population, there was increased demand for food and the use of soya oil for feedstocks and biofuel production. For soyabean oil, pricing economics and weather are critical drivers of overall output.

Food consumption in the UAE has been growing at 12% per year, and the demand for food staples has increased by 30%. Due to its arid climate and paucity of arable land, the UAE relies heavily on imports for its essential commodities and other food. In the UAE, only 1% of the land is available for agriculture. The population has seen a steady rise, and therefore demand for vegetable oils also has increased. Much of what the UAE buys is re-exported.

There is increased awareness about health issues in the UAE. Consumers now believe in eating right, which explains the popularity of healthier oils like olive oil, corn oil, and soyabean oil. With R&D on soyabean oil producing different varieties of oils like high oleic soyabean oil, the prospects appear to be better. Additionally, soya byproducts are also popular in bakeries, and the oil meal obtained after extraction of the oil is used for aqua feed and poultry feed due to the health benefits of Soybean that the oil has gained popularity in the last few years in the UAE. According to Statista, domestic Soybean oil consumption in the United Arab Emirates amounted to approximately 38 thousand metric tons in 2020. In 2009-2011, it was 60 thousand metric tons per year.

Food shipments usually are offloaded, inspected by health officials, and cleared through Customs within hours of arrival at the port (Dubai ports are the primary entry points for food products). Every food shipment is subject to visual inspection upon arrival to ensure compliance with label and shelf-life regulations. Shipments are subject to random laboratory analysis. Vegetable oils are subject to 100 percent sampling. New-to-market food products are subject to thorough laboratory analysis. Once cleared, they are subject to random sample, as are other food products on the market.

The UAE Soybeans Trade

According to AgFlow data, the United Arab Emirates imported 71,627 tons of Soybeans from Brazil in 2022, followed by the United States (98 tons). In 2020, the United Arab Emirates exported Soybeans worth $18.3 million, making it the world’s 28th largest exporter of Soybeans. The same year, Soybeans were the 453rd most shipped product in the United Arab Emirates. The leading destination of Soybeans exports from the United Arab Emirates is India ($17.3 million), Hungary ($576k), Seychelles ($186k), Iraq ($112k), and Egypt ($42.7k).

In 2020, the United Arab Emirates imported Soybeans worth $7.47 million, becoming the world’s 70th largest importer of Soybeans. In the same year, Soybeans were the 805th most imported product in the United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates imports Soybeans primarily from: Ukraine ($2.83 million), Malawi ($2.3 million), Ethiopia ($1.32 million), India ($338k), and Canada ($292k).

Other sources: FNB NEWS

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