Growth in retail sales of edible oils recorded a marked slowdown in 2021, following the year-earlier growth spike due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). However, sales remained well above pre-pandemic levels in 2020. Although some of the strong growth seen in 2020 was due to price rises in some countries, including Brazil, volume sales were also up in this year, with edible oils something of a key cooking ingredient in an environment in which consumers were eating and cooking more in their own homes.
Home seclusion and foodservice closures due to the pandemic resulted in a growth spike in sales of edible oils in 2020. However, value growth was much stronger than volume growth due to major price increases in the Brazilian market. With society learning to live with the virus and vaccination programmes rolling out, value growth slowed in 2021, while volume sales declined slightly. Falling prices in Brazil also held back value growth in 2021, although sales remained above pre-pandemic levels in 2021 in both value and volume terms.
Sunflower oil is the main edible oil consumed in Argentina. The country is a major producer of sunflower oil, corn oil and soy oil. While soy oil consumption is high in neighbouring countries, Argentinians prefer sunflower oil, a tradition passed on from one generation to the next. In Brazil, it is soy oil that dominates sales, as, even following the steep price increases seen in 2020, it is still much cheaper than most other edible oil types.
Although it recorded strong growth during the pandemic, e-commerce still only has a very small presence in the retail distribution of edible oils, accounting for only 1% of regional sales in 2021. Independent small grocers, supermarkets and hypermarkets remain the biggest distribution channels.
Sales of edible oils will record positive growth in real value terms throughout 2021-2026, with annual increases improving year on year over the forecast period. Olive oil will see the most dynamic growth, benefiting from its healthier image as well as an increasingly wide range of players and products active in this category, including chili sauce brand Tabasco, which has been extended into this product area with the launch of a virgin olive oil with the taste of Tabasco.
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