A global playing field

With an import value of 18.3 billion euros and an export value of 15.8 billion euros in 2021, the oils and fats industry in the Netherlands is one of the most important agribusiness sectors in the Dutch economy. Our industry is traditionally internationally oriented and leading in Europe.

Unless stated otherwise, all figures in this module are generated by the MVO Trade Statistics. MVO Trade Statistics is a user-friendly tool that is only accessable for MVO members. It has been developed to provide member companies easy access to official EU trade data. Using this tool, you can obtain Eurostat trade data for oilseeds, vegetable and animal fats and oils, margarine, specialty fats, biodiesel, lecithins and fatty acids.  The tool provides accurate and specific information about the import and export (value and volume) of these products from/to other EU Member States or third countries. 


The Netherlands is Europe’s second largest importer of oil seeds, oils and fats. We import our raw materials from all over the world. 98% of our raw materials are imported and more than 2/3 of this originates from outside the European Union. 

The crops are grown in differ­ent parts of the world depending on climatic conditions. Soybeans are grown primarily in North and South America, palm oil comes from Southeast Asia (especially Indonesia and Malaysia) and Latin Amerika (Honduras and Colombia). We import sunflower seeds from Eastern and Southern Europe, and rapeseed comes mainly from the European Union, but also from Canada, China and Australia. Olive oil, linseed oil, peanut oil, rice oil, castor oil and sesame oil are also examples of oils that are processed and marketed in the Netherlands. 


Our most important products are soybeans, rapeseed, sunflower seeds, used cooking oil (UCO) and the tropical oils palm oil, coconut oil, and palm kernel oil. Examples of other products that are well known but used in smaller volumes are castor oil, shea butter, groundnut oil, olive oil, and linseed oil.


In Europe, the Netherlands is the largest exporter of oils and fats. Our most important sales markets are principally located within the EU (92%). The most important export countries for the oils and fats industry are our closest
neighboring countries Germany (39%) and Belgium (21%).


Oils and fats businesses in the Netherlands are active in very different markets. We process oils and fats in many foodstuffs, animal feeds and non-food products. About half of the oils and fats sold in the Netherlands go to the food and feed industry. The other half serve as raw materials for biofuels and oleochemical products.

Source: Fediol 2020


Oils and fats are an important basis for many products: from margarines, cooking products and frying oil to bakery products, chocolate, baby food, soup, sauces and ice cream. Oils and fats provide energy and are important for the taste, consistency, texture and shelf-life of foodstuff. But also, and above all, they provide our body with important nutrients through essential fatty acids and vitamins. 


In feed too, oils and fats are an important component. Just as they do people, they provide animals with nutrients and energy and they ensure the taste and texture of the feed.


Additionally, oils and fats are increasingly being used as raw materials for the manufacture of biofuels (specifically biodiesel of biokerosene) and they thus offer an alternative to fossil fuels.


Approximately half the products sold in supermarkets contain oils or fats. In addition to foodstuff, oils and fats are also used in all kinds of con­sumer products that have nothing to do with food. Examples include cosmetics (skin care), shampoo, laundry and cleaning products, candles and paint. 

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