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January 23, 2024


Malaysian Palm Oil Exports Performance
(January – December 2023)

Regional Summary

The Middle East and Balkan region accounted for 11% of the total Malaysian palm oil exported in Jan – Dec 2023.  Palm oil is the main product composition of Malaysian palm oil palm products exported, with a market share of 78% or 2,107,766 MT of the total Malaysian palm oil and products exported into the region. The remaining 22% are made of palm-based oleochemical (9%), PKO (6%), finished products (5%) and other products (2%).

Table 1: Malaysian Palm Oil and Palm Product Export to the Middle East & Balkan
Product GroupJan-Dec 2023Jan-Dec 2022Change (MT)Change (%)
Palm Oil2,107,7662,450,183(342,418)(13.98)
Palm-Based Oleo255,751244,63511,1164.54
Palm Kernel Oil155,279148,9286,3514.26
Finished Products121,398121,737(339)(0.28)
Palm Kernel Cake51,943116,240(64,297)(55.31)
Other Palm Products7288,971(8,243)(91.88)
Grand Total2,692,8643,090,695(397,831)(12.87)

Featured Analysis

  • Turkiye is the leading importer of Malaysian palm oil in this region with a volume of 881,518 MT.  The country has recorded an increase of 6.92% in imports of Malaysian palm oil. Despite a significant drop in MPO imports in May, June and July, the third-quarter improvement has compensated for those slow months.
  • Saudi Arabia and the UAE rank as the second and third-largest importers, with total imports recorded at 361,449 MT and 294,446 MT, respectively. However, the import performances for these two countries have declined by 29% and 14%, respectively, compared to the previous year. Historically serving as re-export hubs to their neighboring and Eastern African countries. In 2023, countries like Yemen, Jordan, and Lebanon have chosen to import directly from Malaysia. This shift has contributed to an increase in imports in those specific countries.
  • Iran’s MPO import registered 243,435 MT, which decreased by 47% in the Jan-Dec 2023 period compared to the same period last year. Iranian letters of credit (LCs) are not accepted by foreign banks including banks in Malaysia. Almost all the payments for imported goods will be made through a third country, Iran’s payment. Recently, some third-party countries have also stopped accepting the LC from Iran. The situation has been reflected in the drop of Malaysian palm oil going into Iran. 
  • RBD palm olein stands out as the most demanded palm oil fraction in the Middle East region, constituting 51% of the total imported palm oil products. The majority of RBD palm olein in this area is imported by established markets like Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, contributing to 91% of the total RBD palm olein imports. Notably, a portion of this volume, specifically 23,499 MT destined for Turkey and Saudi Arabia were RSPO certified palm olein.

Middle East

Table 2: Malaysian Palm Oil Export to the  Middle East
 CountryJan-Dec 2023Jan-Dec 2022Change (MT)Change (%)
2Saudi Arabia361,449511,754(150,305)(29.37)
5Yemen Arab Rep.133,04634,07498,972290.46
 Grand Total2,106,5492,448,996(342,447)(13.98)

Source: MPOB

Imports of Malaysian palm oil by the Middle East region registered a volume of 2,106,549 MT, which is 342,447 MT or 13.98% lower compared to the same period in 2022. Turkiye is the leading importer of Malaysian palm oil in this region with a volume of 881,518 MT.  The country has recorded an increase in imports with 6.92% of Malaysian palm oil.   

Imports of MPO to Saudi Arabia from January to December 2023 dropped by 29.37% compared to the same period in 2022. This was primarily due to the shift in buying preference to Indonesian palm oil (IPO) due to better discounts. Another factor which has contributed to this is the returning of freight cost to its regular rate. Saudi Arabia and UAE, which were used as the re-export hub to their neighbouring and Eastern African countries, are now less attractive and importers from those countries now prefer importing directly from Malaysia. Countries like Yemen, which traditionally imports palm oil from their neighbours,  now choose to import directly from Malaysia, taking advantage of the lower freight cost. Jordan and Lebanon registered an increase in MPO imports because MPO exporters used their ports for their shipments to Syria.

Imports of Malaysian palm oil by UAE and Iran showed a drop of 14.08% and 46.94% respectively, registering a volume of 294,446 MT and 243,435 MT for the whole year 2023. UAE and Iran are still important exporting countries ranked as the region’s third and fourth largest MPO export destinations.

Other countries that recorded an increase were Yemen (290.46%), Jordan (9.84%), Kuwait (14.64%), Bahrain (12.09%) and Lebanon (44.00%). While countries that registered a drop in imports of MPO were Oman (58.59%), Qatar (19.24), Syria (31.11) and Iraq (57.62%).

RBD palm olein is the most imported palm oil fraction in this region which accounted for 51% of the total palm oil products imported into the region.  Most of the RBD palm olein in this region was imported from traditional markets such as Iran, Turkiye, Saudi Arabia and UAE, accounting for 91% of the total RBD PL imported into the region. Out of this volume, 23,498.97 MT to Turkiye and Saudi Arabia were RSPO-certified PL.

Table 3: Breakdown of Malaysian Palm Oil Export to Middle East
ProductJan-Dec 2023Jan-Dec 2022Change (MT)Change (%)
RBD PL1,081,2701,405,006(323,736)(23.04)
RBD PO235,096369,013(133,917)(36.29)
RBD PS196,840232,004(35,164)(15.16)
COOKING OIL312,816201,552111,26455.20
Grand Total2,106,5492,448,996(342,447)(13.98)

Source: MPOB

Figure 2: Middle East MPO Import Breakdown


Table 4: Malaysian Palm Oil Export to Balkan Countries
 CountryJan-Dec 2023Jan-Dec 2022Change (MT)Change (%)
1Bosnia and Herzegovina1204476173.06
 Grand Total1,2171,187292.48
Source: MPOB


The Balkan region comprising Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia imported a small volume of Malaysian palm oil. During the period from Jan – Dec 2023, the region imported 1,217 MT of Malaysian palm oil, which recorded a slight increase of 29 MT or 2.5% compared to the corresponding period of last year. The region is mainly a sunflower-producing region, and the higher sunflower seed output has impacted palm oil imports.

Table 5: Breakdown of Malaysian Palm Oil Export to Balkan
ProductJan-Dec 2023Jan-Dec 2022Change (MT)Change (%)
RBD PO84190752838.74
Cooking Oil328730(402)(55.12)
RBD PL47368(320)(87.09)
Grand Total1,2171,187292.48

Source: MPOB

Figure 3: MPO Export to Balkan

For this period, RBD Palm Oil is the largest imported oil fraction by the region, which accounted for 69% of the total palm oil imported during the review period.

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