By Rick Chase
Myanmar is among the highest consumer per capita of edible oil in the world. Consumers in Myanmar use edible oil for frying, curries and added to other food such as rice, tea leave sale as pulses to improve the flavour and satiability. In Myanmar, it is good hospitality to increase the oil content of meals served to visitors.
Per capita consumption of edible oil is estimated to be around 10 Kg per year. It is second only to rice in terms of household expenditure with peanut oil (and some regions, sesame oil) being the oil of choice for most household cuisine. Where price is an issue (in the majority of cases) Peanut oil is substituted with palm oil or some form of peanut/palm oil blend.
Myanmar is the largest producer of sesame and among the top producers of peanut (ground nut) globally. Myanmar also produces smaller quantities of Palm, Sunflower, Soybean, cotton seed and mustard for edible oil use. But 40% of oil consumption comes from imported (mostly Palm oil which is usually marketed as vegetable oil).
Oil seed production in Myanmar faces a broad array of uniquely Myanmar obstacles. This is especially related things such as poor agricultural practices, massive post-harvest loss, and antiquated oil-seed extraction practices and technology matched with a lack of national standards so that, in spite of being among the largest oil seed producers in the world, limits export potential and profit-ability.
The edible oil market is expected to grow at just under 5% worldwide between 2017 and 2023 to reach nearly 300 000 MT. That is an increase of over $5 Billion USD from 2015 (to just over $65 Billion in 2023). Europe is the 2nd highest consumer preferring high end innovative and healthier oils. But Asia Pacific retains the lion’s share of the global market earning over $26 Billion USD by 2023. Myanmar is estimated grow to between $2 and $5 Billion USD in that time (due to the black market trade from China and Thailand, accurate numbers are elusive).
Globally, the giants in the edible oils market include suppliers and manufacturers like Wilmar International Ltd (Singapore), Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (U.S.), Associated British Foods Plc. (U.K.), Bunge limited (U.S.), Cargill, Inc.(U.S.) , Ajinomoto Co., Inc. (Japan).
Myanmar has its own domestic oil giants including First Top, Golden Horse, Goody, and Yangon Peanut Oil. And the industry is governed by MEODA (Myanmar Edible OIl Dealers Association). Along with smaller regional producers and cottage producers in the villages.
To offset insufficient domestic production and growing local demand, Myanmar must import approximately 40% of its consumption (nearly 400,000 tons) annually just to fill the void. Imported brands include Sunar, Cook, and Meizan from countries such as Turkey, Thailand and Malaysia. Our research found six major countries of origin for oils we found on the shelves of the major supermarket chain. Myanmar represented only 13% of the products on the shelf. Currently, import duties favour ASEAN producers, but that is set to change in the coming months, with changes that will level the playing field for all producer countries.