The Increase in Latin American Palm Oil Exports

According to a report by Bloomberg, Latin American palm oil exports have increased in recent years. 

According to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, Latin America’s, central and south American palm oil exports have increased by 70% in the last decade. The global palm oil shipment, on the other hand, is only experiencing a 14% increase in comparison. 

Even though the Latin American palm oil exports are only counted as much as 5% of the global palm. And also compared with the sheer number of 90% palm oil exports from Indonesia and Malaysia in the total global production. This number still represents a high increase. 

Nicolás Pérez Marulanda, executive president of the National Federation of Oil Palm Growers, known as Fedepalma, said that “Colombia—currently the world’s fourth-largest producer—had “lots of room” to develop its 600,000ha of plantations.”.

The Colombian government had identified 5 million ha of land that is suitable for palm without the need for deforestation. This amount of land, if it is realized, will put Colombia on par with Malaysia in terms of area used for palm plantations. 

Perez also said that producers in Colombia were preparing to meet the requirements of new European deforestation rules, and both the country and Latin America had the opportunity to become reliable sources of sustainable palm oil for high-standard markets like Europe.

Moving to other Latin American countries, Guatemala is also seeing an increase in European demand for palm oil as it is able to show that its palm production is deforestation-free using third-party satellite monitoring and sustainable production, according to Karen Rosales, former executive director of the Palm Grower Association of Guatemala.

Palm oil is one of Guatemala’s top exports, ranking third behind textiles and coffee. The country sends out 80% of its palm oil production, with Europe being its primary market, receiving around 60% of shipments.

Guatemala boasts an average yield of 5.86 metric tons per hectare for palm oil, surpassing Colombia’s 3.66 metric tons per hectare and the global average of 3.27 metric tons per hectare.

Experts like Julian McGill foresee Latin American countries continuing to enhance their palm oil yields in the future.