Renewable-Fuel Push Drives Soyoil Prices to Record High

Jun 07, 2021

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By Jeremy Scott

Prices for soybean oil shot to an all-time high last week, powered by growing demand from the biofuels sector.

Soybean-oil futures on the Chicago Board of Trade have soared almost 70% this year, closing at nearly 72 cents per pound on Friday. That topped the previous high hit in 2008. The climb makes soybean oil one of the year’s best-performing assets among a basket tracked by The Wall Street Journal, along with other commodities like lumber, corn and hogs.

Soybean oil is commonly used as an ingredient in foods like cereals, bread, and other snack foods. Demand for the vegetable oil is growing, however, from the biofuels industry, a chief part of the push toward renewable energy highlighted by President Biden’s call for the U.S. to cut carbon-emissions levels in half by 2030.

“Biofuel, particularly renewable diesel, is a key driver of the demand picture on the vegetable-oil side as we look forward,” said Greg Morris,

president of Archer Daniels Midland Co.’s agricultural services and oilseeds business unit.

The U.S. Agriculture Department expects the biofuels sector to consume 12 billion pounds of soybean oil in the 2021-22 marketing year—up from an estimated 9.5 billion pounds in 2020-21, according to its monthly supply-and-demand report published in May.

Producers are racing to keep up. Production capacity for soyoil in the U.S. is expected to grow to 935 million gallons in 2021, nearly double from where it was last year, according to data from

StoneX Group.

By 2023, that capacity is expected to swell to over two billion gallons annually.

“The enthusiasm for this new generation of renewable fuels mimics what we saw in the early days of the ethanol boom,” said

Arlan Suderman,

chief commodities economist with StoneX.

ADM said last month that it would invest $350 million into building a new soybean-crushing plant—where raw soybeans are made into products like oil and meal—in Spiritwood, N.D. ADM said the facility will open before the 2023 harvest, processing as much as 150,000 bushels of soybeans a day.

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