Soy Oil Around Highest Ever as Indonesia Expands Palm Export Ban


SOYBEAN oil traded around record levels in Chicago as Indonesia’s sweeping ban on palm oil exports further stretches global supplies of commodities used in everything from cooking to cosmetics and fuel.

Indonesia, the top shipper of palm oil, is enforcing its latest policy of halting exports of the tropical oil across the value chain from Thursday, in what Commonwealth Bank of Australia calls “one of the biggest acts of agriculture nationalism so far during this surge in food prices.” Export restrictions will stay in place until domestic prices ease.

Access to edible oils for making food and fuel has been thrown into disarray as war in Ukraine and weather-driven supply woes reduce availability and trade flows. Indonesia’s move threatens to drive up costs even more across multiple supply chains at a time of rampant inflation. It also makes it vital that farmers in big oilseed regions like North America produce bumper crops this year. The U.S. is already seeing robust demand for future harvests, notably from China.

“U.S. soybean export sales for next year are off to a flying start,” according to Jack Scoville, an analyst at Price Futures Group Inc. in Chicago. 

Most-active soyoil futures traded around the all-time high scaled Wednesday, and canola in North America neared the record reached in March. Palm oil for July in Kuala Lumpur dropped 1.4% after jumping more than 9% on Wednesday.

Corn futures in Chicago matched the highest price since 2012, climbing for a fourth day to as high as $8.185 a bushel. The gains came amid “rumors that China was shopping for U.S. offers for late summer shipment,” Karl Setzer, an AgriVisor LLC analyst, wrote in a note. Elsewhere, wheat and soybeans fell.

In the U.S. and Canada, concern is mounting about adverse weather slowing the planting of spring wheat, corn and soybeans. “Little to no field activity” is likely for two or three more weeks after snow storms and sleet, the North Dakota Wheat Commission said Tuesday. And major corn-growing states like Illinois and Indiana were blanketed by cold advisories as of early Wednesday.

Spring wheat futures in Minneapolis held four days of gains to trade at $11.9525 a bushel, close to the multiyear high reached last month.

As crop futures stay high, fear is building about food insecurity in developing nations. The U.S. on Wednesday said it is drawing on emergency funding powers not used since 2014 as part of efforts to provide $670 million in food aid to nations at dire risk of hunger because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.