SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa’s oil seed sector is expected to witness a bumper harvest in Marketing Year (MY) 2021/22, which will result to a drop in edible oil imports to 940,000 tons.

Soybean oil imports are forecast to be around 130,000 tons and for sunflower seed oil to be at about 260,000 tons.

According to a GAIN report prepared by USDA Foreign Agricultural Services, the decline will follow a 3% rise in edible oil imports in 2020/21 MY to around 950,000 tons.

South Africa imported an estimated 150,000 tons of soybean oil and 238,000 tons of sunflower oil in the 2019/20 MY.

The two major countries that supply it with sunflower oil are Bulgaria and Romania, and soybean oil comes from the Netherlands and Argentina.

South Africa will crush a record 2.3 million tons of oilseeds, 3% higher than the estimated 2.2 million tons that will be crushed in the 2020/21 MY


The country also exports small amounts of edible oils to neighbouring countries as 2019/20, it exported an estimated 60,000 tons of sunflower seed oil and 65,000 tons of soybean oil.

Edible oil exports in the 2020/21 MY and 2021/22 MY are expected to stay at the same levels of around 60,000 tons of sunflower oil and 65,000 tons of soybean oil as local demand is also expected to increase.

South Africa edible oil consumption to marginally rise

According to the report, the consumption of edible oil will grow only marginally in the 2021/22 MY and in the 2020/21 MY.

As a higher value food product, the demand for edible oils is sensitive to changes in consumer spending power and with South Africa’s economic growth rate expected to remain sluggish in the next couple of years, a marginal increase in consumption is projected.

Consumption of edible oil in the country is about 1.4 million tons per annum with the two major oils consumed i.e. soybean oil and sunflower seed oil, representing about 60 percent of the consumption, of which two-thirds are locally produced.

While sunflower oil and soybean oil compete with palm oil in the consumption basket, palm oil is not produced in South Africa and as an affordable alternative, imports are expected to remain significant.

Since the 2009/10 MY, palm oil imports have increased from 340,000 tons to 480,000 tons in the 2019/20 MY – an increase of more than 40 percent.

As a result, the share of palm oil in the total edible oil consumption mix of South Africa increased to around 35 percent in the 2019/20 MY.

South Africa imports palm oil mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia.

South Africa expects a historic high soybean production

With the rise in local oil production triggered by rise in production of oil seeds, the report predicts the positive trend in soybean plantings over the past 20 years in South Africa will continue in the 2021/22 MY1, but at a slower rate.

South Africa is expecting a historically high soybean crop of 1.7 million tons in the 2020/21 MY on a record planted area of 827,100 h and favorable weather conditions.

There will be a marginal increase of three percent in the area planted with soybeans to 850,000 hectares in 2021/22 MY but production is expected to be still at 1.7 million tons.

An expected 12 percent drop in sunflower production in the 2020/21 MY and a sharp increase in local sunflower seed prices, is expected to trigger a 15 percent increase in production ares to 545,000 hectares in the 2021/22 MY.

Under normal climatic conditions and an assumed 5-year average yield of 1.4 tons per hectare, an area of 545,000 hectares could realize a sunflower seed crop of about 780,000 tons.

Oil seed crushing to increase by 3% reducing oilseed meal imports

The bulk of oilseeds, are crushed to produce both edible oil for human consumption and protein meal for inclusion in animal feed rations.

During the period under review South Africa will crush a record 2.3 million tons of oilseeds, 3% higher than the estimated 2.2 million tons that will be crushed in the 2020/21 MY.

In the 2019/20 MY, the country crushed 2.1 million tons of oilseeds.

The crushing capacity for sunflower seeds in South Africa is estimated at around one million tons per annum and the capacity of oilseed refineries is estimated at 950,000 tons per annum.

While total soybean processing capacity in is estimated at more than two million tons and is derived from a combination of dedicated soybean processing facilities, as well as plants with the ability to switch between soybeans and sunflower seeds.

After crushing 2.3 million tons of oilseeds South Africa will have a record 1.5 million tons of locally produced oilseed meal available in the 2021/22 MY.

In the 2020/21 MY, Post estimates South Africa will crush 2.2 million tons of oilseeds, producing just short of 1.5 million tons of oilseed meal.

In the 2019/20 MY, South Africa crushed a record 2.1 million tons of oilseeds, seven percent higher than the previous season, producing 1.3 million tons of oilseed meal.

The rise in production of oilseed meal will lead to soybean meal imports to drop to the lowest level the past two decades at 350,000 tons in both the 2021/22 MY and 2020/21 MY.

Sunflower meal imports are expected to stay constant at around 10,000 tons in both the 2021/22 MY and 2020/21 MY, as oilseed meal imports will be dominated by soybean meal imports.

The country will further export about 140,000 tons of oilseed meal (120,000 tons of soybean meal and 20,000 tons of sunflower meal) mainly to neighboring countries.

In the 2019/20 MY, South Africa exported 130,000 tons of oilseed meal (110,000 tons of soybean meal and 20,000 tons of sunflower meal).

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