International biodiesel markets

Developments in production and trade

Published: 12/01/2012

This study compiled on behalf of the association for the promotion of oil and protein-bearing plants (UFOP) assesses the current situation of the international biodiesel markets which have grown tremendously over the past decade. To a large extent, the current industry has been interwoven into an already existing global vegetable oil and oilseed market. While practically no biodiesel was traded ten years ago, international volumes have reached 2.25 Mtonnes in 2010. Today’s market, though volatile and policy dependent, has become much more transparent in comparison to its early stages.

The EU has clearly been and will most likely remain the key production and consumption region for biodiesel until 2020. Many countries though have followed suit and implemented national blending targets for biodiesel, thus stimulating domestic production and consumption. Partly, such production has been targeted for export to the EU. These trade streams are likely to grow in the future. Economic margins under existing EU policy schemes, predominantly blending mandates, will remain low and comparative cost advantages will have to be used. This will cause a growth in production capacity in strategic locations offering diverse and cheaper feedstock and other input factors including labor. A full utilization of existing EU conversion capacity is therefore unrealistic. Potential future investments in infrastructure and technical equipment in Eastern Europe ,i.e. EU MS as well as their bordering states could help increase the supply of cost competitive EU biodiesel feedstock.