EU palm-oil imports drop by nearly 20%
EU member states imported significantly less palm oil in the marketing year 2022-’23 than the previous year.
The decline in imports was especially strong in the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium.
From July 2022 through the end of this June, the EU-27 imported just under 4 million metric tons of palm oil.
This was around 934,000 tons, or 19 percent, less than the year before.
The main importing country in the EU was Spain, receiving 1.2 million tons, which was up around 4 percent on the 2021-’22 marketing season.
It was followed by the Netherlands as second most important importer with 1.2 million tons. However, the country’s imports were just less than 19 percent short of the previous year’s volume of 1.4 million tons.
Regarding Dutch imports, it should be noted that ports such as Rotterdam or Amsterdam are central destinations for overseas imports and serve as ports of entry into the EU from where palm oil is shipped on to other EU member states.
Also, the Netherlands is an important European location for the production of biofuels.
According to investigations conducted by Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (mbH), the decline in palm-oil imports to Italy was more pronounced.
At 803,000 tons, the country’s imports were around 38 percent smaller than in the 2021-’22 reference period.
The slump in Belgian palm-oil imports was even sharper, with imports falling 42 percent to 100,000 tons.
By contrast, Germany imported significantly more palm oil from abroad. At 359,000 tons, imports were up nearly 25 percent in 2022-’23 compared to the previous crop year.
The Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen (UFOP) has welcomed the general decrease in palm oil imports.
The association attributes this trend mainly to the decline in using palm oil as a feedstock in biodiesel fuel and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) production.
However, it is critical of the fact that, in the same period, imports of questionable biofuels from China to the EU saw a massive increase.
Such biofuels were declared to be so-called “advanced biofuels,” but there were strong doubts about the correctness of the certifications and required proofs of raw-material origin.
EU member states are all required to phase out the crediting of biofuels from palm oil towards national blending mandates or greenhouse-gas reduction quotas no later than 2030.
In Germany, such crediting has already been disallowed since this past January, although imports for the purpose of processing for export are still possible.
Alongside Germany, there are other member states that have also already excluded crediting of palm oil-based biofuels, including France, Italy, Austria, Belgium and Sweden.
The UFOP expects that, in the future, domestic rapeseed oil will gain importance as an “iLUC-free” feedstock alternative, because rapeseed is grown in crop rotations in traditional agricultural regions.
According to the outcome of the trialogue negotiations to amend the Renewable Energy Directive (Red III), the EU Commission has to present a report no later than Sept. 1, which will investigate whether soybean oil should also be classified as “iLUC feedstock.”