Fresh off the tree palm oil at Batang Toru sub-district, South Tapanuli, North Sumatra. (JG Photo/Nur Yasmin)

Indonesia’s Palm Oil Exports Enjoy Robust Growth despite Pandemic


MARCH 05, 2021

Jakarta. Indonesian palm oil producers have recorded higher export sale value in 2020 amid the global coronavirus pandemic than in the previous year thanks to stronger global prices.

The country’s palm oil exports were valued at $22.97 billion last year, in comparison to $20.22 billion in 2019, according to data from industry association Gapki.


“There was a blessing in disguise during the pandemic, as we saw soaring demand for oleo chemical products by hygiene product industry in both domestic and overseas markets,” Gapki Chairman Joko Supriyono said in a video conference on Thursday evening.

The demand for oleo chemicals rose by 20 percent in exports markets and 60 percent in domestic markers, he said.

The growth in export value was fueled mainly by a hike in crude palm oil and vegetable oil prices from an average of $646 per ton in the first half of 2020 to $775 per ton in the second half.

By volume, the export fell to 34 million tons from 37.4 million tons over the same period.

In another positive development, the majority of palm oil export was processed products such as refined palm oil and oleo chemicals, Joko said.

“Of the total 34 tons of our palm oil export last year, crude palm oil made up only 7.1 million tons,” Joko said.

The exports also comprise 21.2 million tons of refined palm oil, 3.8 million tons of oleo chemicals, 1.5 million tons of palm kernel oil, 301,000 tons of crude palm kernel oil and 31,000 tons of biodiesel.

He noted that palm oil exports made a significant contribution to a surplus in the national trade balance.

“Our export sales were valued at $22.97 billion in 20202, when Indonesia’s trade balance enjoyed a surplus of $21.7 billion. We are grateful that the industry has a major contribution to the trade balance,” Joko said.