Edible Oils – Africa’s other booming oil business you didn’t know about
Edible vegetable oils are some of the most common cooking ingredients in the world and feature quite prominently in many African delicacies. Apart from their very important role in kitchens, edible oils are used in the production of soaps, washing powders, personal care and cosmetic products, and bio‐fuels. Yes, these oils are quite versatile and feature prominently in our everyday lives.
Although there are several edible oils that are very important in our modern world, two of them – soybean oil and palm oil – account for roughly 60 percent of the total world production of edible oils. West Africa used to be the world‘s largest producer and exporter of palm oil (and has the climate and capability to remain so). However, nowadays Malaysia and Indonesia are the two largest palm oil exporting countries, accounting for up to 90 percent of world exports.
Apart from soybean and palm oil, there are over twenty different edible oils that are used for cooking and industrial purposes. Olive oil, peanut (groundnut) oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower seed oil, corn oil and coconut oil are just a few of the edible oils that are in high demand for local consumption in Africa and for export.
To get a significant chance in oil production with common oils such as palm oils, soybean oils, and other widely available oils such as corn and vegetable oils requires a certain amount of quantity to be produced. If you do not have a large plot of land, you could organize a cooperative of local farmers and work with them towards a joint business strategy. Alternatively, the best option for you starting small is to be distinct in what you have to offer, creating a niche that you can own relatively quickly.
Coconut oil, which can be sold for the preparation of exotic dishes, can also serve the beauty industry.
Produce valuable seed oils for export to the Western alternative Health & Beauty industry, which is booming in the West and developing countries like India and China. Seeds are often widely available in Africa and can be easily grown.
Top Countries & Policy Guidance
Oil production would work in any country in Africa. If you plan to sell edible oils to the manufacturing sector, such as food processing or beauty industry, choose countries where these industries have a strong presence.
Action & Tips
Depending on the level of competition on your local market it may help to widen your horizon and think beyond traditional cooking oils. Research online about the kind of oils that exist locally and elsewhere, and learn about the amazing range of utilization focusing on the non-apparent areas – this is where you could build your African niche.