Soybean oil consumption grows fast
Soybean oil consumption is growing faster than that of palm oil, buoyed by increasing preference among families to prepare foods.
Rising health consciousness, income and government rules requiring processors to fortify edible oil with vitamin A were driving demand for soybean oil, said industry executives.
Bangladesh consumed 13.10 lakh tonnes in the year 2020-21, registering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 5 per cent since the year 2017-18.
On the other hand, palm oil consumption grew 0.5 per cent during this period, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
Bangladesh's palm oil consumption was 16.10 lakh tonnes in the year 2020-21 up from 15.78 lakh tonne three year ago, said the US agency in its "Oilseeds: World Markets and Trade" report released recently.
The report said Bangladesh was the fifth palm oil importing nation after India, China, the European Union and Pakistan in marketing year 2020-21 while it was the third largest soybean oil importer the same year.
Md Shafiul Ather Taslim, director for finance of TK Group, one of the leading edible oil importers and processors, said increased consumption of soybean oil reflect consumers' gradual shift from buying loose oil to packaged or bottled oil which was mainly soybean oil.
Bottled oil today accounts for up to 40 per cent of the total edible oil consumption. The ratio was as much as 15 per cent two decades ago, he said.
"Health consciousness is growing and middle class people, including many families in rural areas, are consuming soybean oil," he said, expecting that consumption of soybean oil would increase further.
The USDA said Bangladesh annually consumes 30 lakh tonnes of vegetable oil and palm accounts more than half of the total. Today palm oil is used mainly for industrial purposes such as for bakery.
Biswajit Saha, director for corporate and regulatory affairs of City Group, another major operator in the sector, said the Covid-19 pandemic induced economic slowdown affected industrial demand for palm oil. And that affected its consumption.
At the same time, crushing of soybeans increased, he added.
The private sector doubled its capacity to crush oilseeds over the last four years to meet growing demand for soymeal from the feed industry and demand for soybean oil for human consumption.
Mohd Didarul Islam, head of finance and accounts of Bangladesh Edible Oil, said the government policy requiring fortification of edible oil and other rules increased packaging of oil for human consumption.
Today, most of the edible oil sold in packaged or bottled form are soybean oil and sales of loose oil will decline gradually, he added.