Used in food, cosmetics and as bio-fuel, worldwide demand for palm oil is robust. Indonesia remains as the market leader for exported palm oil.
Global sales from palm oil exports by country totaled an estimated US$30.4 billion in 2018. Overall, the value of palm oil exports fell by an average -12.5% for all exporting countries since 2014 when palm oil shipments were valued at $34.7 billion. Year over year, international palm oil sales slipped -11.3% from 2017 to 2018.
Led by Indonesia, Asian countries generated the highest dollar worth of exported palm oil during 2018 with shipments valued at $25.7 billion or 84.9% of the global total. In second place were European exporters at 6.4% while 5.2% of worldwide palm oil shipments originated from Latin American countries excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean. Smaller percentages came from Oceanian countries (1.7%) headed by Papua New Guinea, then exporters in Africa (1.5%) and North America (0.3%).
For research purposes, the 4-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix for palm oil is 1511.
Palm Oil Exports by Country
Below are the 15 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of palm oil during 2018.
- Indonesia: US$16.5 billion (54.5% of total palm oil exports)
- Malaysia: $8.7 billion (28.6%)
- Netherlands: $978.6 million (3.2%)
- Papua New Guinea: $483 million (1.6%)
- Colombia: $446.2 million (1.5%)
- Guatemala: $440.7 million (1.5%)
- Germany: $326.1 million (1.1%)
- Honduras: $260.5 million (0.9%)
- Thailand: $223.3 million (0.7%)
- Ecuador: $194.8 million (0.6%)
- Ivory Coast: $188.4 million (0.6%)
- Italy: $143.6 million (0.5%)
- Costa Rica: $129.6 million (0.4%)
- Denmark: $119.4 million (0.4%)
- United States: $92.8 million (0.3%)
The listed 15 countries shipped 96.3% of global palm oil exports in 2018 by value.
Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing palm oil exporters since 2014 were: Italy (up 113.9%), Colombia (up 91.9%), Guatemala (up 52.9%) and Denmark (up 44.9%).
Those countries that posted declines in their exported palm oil sales were led by: Netherlands (down -29.7%), Malaysia (down -27.6%), Germany (down -15.1%), Ecuador (down -11%) and Ivory Coast (down -10.1%).
The following countries posted the highest positive net exports for palm oil during 2018. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the surplus between the value of each country’s exported palm oil and its import purchases for that same commodity.
- Indonesia: US$16.5 billion (net export surplus down -5.4% since 2014)
- Malaysia: $8.2 billion (down -29.1%)
- Papua New Guinea: $454.7 million (down -5.8%)
- Guatemala: $426 million (up 59.6%)
- Colombia: $235.8 million (up 96%)
- Thailand: $221.8 million (up 22.8%)
- Honduras: $216.8 million (up 2.1%)
- Ecuador: $190.6 million (down -11.1%)
- Ivory Coast: $109.8 million (down -24.8%)
- Costa Rica: $90.1 million (down -15.7%)
- Peru: $38.8 million (up 1301.1%)
- Solomon Islands: $22.4 million (down -9.6%)
- Cambodia: $16 million (up 33.4%)
- Nepal: $13.4 million (reversing a -$68.3 million deficit)
- Panama: $9.7 million (up 3221.8%)
Indonesia has the highest surplus in the international trade of palm oil. In turn, this positive cashflow confirms Indonesia’s strong competitive advantage for this specific product category.
The following countries posted the highest negative net exports for palm oil during 2018. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports. Thus, the statistics below present the deficit between the value of each country’s imported palm oil purchases and its exports for that same commodity.
- India: -US$5.5 billion (net export deficit down -16.1% since 2014)
- China: -$3.4 billion (down -23.1%)
- Pakistan: -$1.9 billion (down -0.7%)
- Spain: -$1.3 billion (up 18.3%)
- United States: -$1.05 billion (up 8.4%)
- Bangladesh: -$1.03 billion (no 2014 data)
- Italy: -$852.4 million (down -42.5%)
- Netherlands: -$846.7 million (up 8.8%)
- Russia: -$718.6 million (up 12.3%)
- Egypt: -$679.7 million (up 63.4%)
- Japan: -$536.2 million (up 1.3%)
- Vietnam: -$513.4 million (up 1%)
- Kenya: -$440 million (down -5.5%)
- Turkey: -$407 million (down -17%)
- South Korea: -$388.3 million (up 6.9%)
India incurred the highest deficit in the international trade of palm oil. In turn, this negative cashflow highlights India’s strong competitive disadvantage for this specific product category but also signals opportunities for palm oil-supplying countries that help satisfy the powerful demand.
Palm Oil Exporting Companies
According to global trading platform Alibaba, the following companies are top-rated examples of palm oil-trading companies located in the country shown within parentheses:
- Erapoly Global Sdn. BHD (Malaysia)
- Foshan Shunde Guoxin Ind. Co., Limited (China)
- MUZ Trading (Philippines)
- Novagen Genetica LtdA-EPP (Brazil)
- Passata Trading GmbH (Germany)
- Pt. Asianagro Agungjaya (Indonesia)
See also Palm Oil Imports by Country, Top Asian Export Countries and Indonesia’s Top 10 Exports
Alibaba, Supplier information for palm oil. Accessed on May 8, 2019
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 8, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 8, 2019
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on May 8, 2019
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on August 2, 2019
Wikipedia, Palm oil. Accessed on May 8, 2019