Indonesia has stopped all exports of palm oil following local shortages, which are seeing prices soar on the domestic market and are raising fears of escalating social tensions. While officials say the ban is only temporary, with no end date, the hiatus is set to continue for the foreseeable future. The move comes at a time when the global oil industry is already vulnerable, with the Russian war on Ukraine having hit sunflower oil production and droughts in South America spoiling soya bean crops.
As our chart shows, Indonesia is the world’s largest palm oil producer, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the global volume. The country ships up to two thirds of its annual production abroad, which is equivalent to around 30 million tons. Despite the fact that palm oil is known to be incredibly bad for the environment - particularly by causing deforestation in the tropics and reducing biodiversity - it is the most consumed vegetable oil in the world and has seen its production volume triple since the early 2000s. While more than 65 percent of palm oil is used in foods, it is also used in biofuels, cosmetics and cleaning products.