Palm oil purchases
The only vegetable oil produced domestically in notable quantities is sunflower oil at 348,000 tonnes in 2014. This was double the amount produced in 2009. Rapeseed oil output was recorded at about 28,000 tonnes in 2014, also almost double the 2009 volume. Figure 1 shows the recovering production volumes, as well as the relative dominance of sunflower oil.

Figure 1

Between 2009 and 2014, Bulgaria steadily increased its palm oil imports from 33,300 tonnes to 51,800 tonnes. This was sourced at roughly equal parts from Indonesia, Malaysia and via Greece which has strong economic ties with Bulgaria.

Palm oil accounted for more than half of the country´s oils and fats imports over the same period. As Figure 2 indicates, demand for Malaysian palm oil saw ups and downs, but the quantities purchased have remained remarkably stable (see dotted line).

Figure 2

Economic opportunities
True to Bulgaria´s historical heritage and geographical proximity to Greece and Turkey, the traditional cuisine revolves around the use of olive oil and sunflower oil. Still, since Bulgaria has a strong Muslim community, there are opportunities to develop the halal food segment with the aid of palm oil.

The positive image that Malaysia enjoys among many Bulgarians may be used as a foundation for further cooperation. In particular, the country seems interested in exploring ways to intensify B2B links.

For instance, Bulgaria – while striving to brand itself as an exporter of healthy food products – lacks the expertise to process raw materials. Malaysian companies could develop long-term partnerships by bringing the requisite patents and technologies to the table.

And if the industry succeeds in convincing decision makers of the wholesome qualities of a diet that includes palm oil, interest could well rise in related products.

MPOC Brussels


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