Soybean oil is the natural oil extracted from whole soybeans. Typically, about 19% of a soybean's weight can be extracted as crude soybean oil. The oil content of U.S. soybeans correlates directly with the temperatures and amount of sunshine during the soybean pod-filling stages. Edible products produced with soybean oil include cooking and salad oils, shortening, and margarine. Soybean oil is the most widely used cooking oil in the U.S. It accounts for 80% of margarine production and for more than 75% of total U.S. consumer vegetable fat and oil consumption. Soy oil is cholesterol-free and high in polyunsaturated fat. Soy oil is also used to produce inedible products such as paints, varnish, resins, and plastics. Of the edible vegetable oils, soy oil is the world's largest at about 32%, followed by palm oil and rapeseed oil. Soybean oil futures and options are traded on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT).
Prices - Soybean oil futures prices at the Chicago Board of Trade in 2007 were at 28.40 cents per pound in January. Prices moved higher, and except for a brief dip in July, traded higher all year to finally close the year at 50.55 cents per pound, a gain of about 80%. The price continued to rally into early 2008 reaching 68.15 cents per pound in February. Regarding cash prices, for the first eight months of 2006-07 (through May 2007), the average monthly price of crude domestic soybean oil (in tank cars) in Decatur (F.O.B.) rose +23.2% yr/yr to 28.84 cents per pound.
Supply - World production of soybean oil in 2006-07 rose +4.4% yr/yr to a new record high of 35.823 million metric tons, which was more than five times the level of 6.199 million metric tons seen in 1970-71. The U.S. accounts for 26% of world soybean oil production, while Brazil accounts for 15%, and the European Union accounts for 7%. U.S. production of soybean oil in 2007-08 rose +1.4% yr/yr to 20.315 billion pounds, but still slightly below the 2005-06 record high of 20.393 billion pounds.
Demand - World consumption of soybean oil in 2006-07 rose +6.6% yr/yr to a record high of 35.938 million metric tons. The U.S. accounted for 24% of world consumption, while Brazil accounted for 9%, the European Union for 9%, and India for 9%. U.S. consumption of soybean oil in 2007-08 rose +5.3% yr/yr to 19.700 billion pounds, which was a new record high.
Trade - World exports of soybean oil in 2006-07 rose +2.4% yr/yr to 9.950 million metric tons, which was a record high. U.S. exports of soybean oil in 2007-08 fell -3.4% yr/yr to 1.400 billion pounds, well below the record of 3.079 billion pounds seen in 1997-98.