Tiny market for vegetable oils
The market economy of the Republic of Cyprus experienced trouble in the wake of the EU financial crisis in 2009. As much of the economic activity revolves around Cyprus being a financial centre for the Middle East and Russia, it was particularly vulnerable to volatility. In addition, many banks were exposed to Greek debt.
In June 2012, the government had to ask for international financial aid. Alongside banking, tourism is the most important economic sector. Britons and Russians make up the two largest tourist groups. About 2.4 million tourists visited Cyprus in 2014, a relatively small figure compared to Croatia, with more than 11 million visitors per year.
The only vegetable oil produced in the Republic of Cyprus is olive oil. In 2014, its production reached 5,600 tonnes. That year, it imported 41,200 tonnes of vegetable oil, mainly sunflower, soybean and rapeseed oils. Palm oil accounted for 1,100 tonnes.
According to the MPOB, exports of Malaysian palm-based products to the republic equalled 1,132 tonnes in 2014. Based on the volume of palm oil imports, Malaysia supplied 100% of the demand. Figure 1 compares the import volume in 2013 and 2014.
The tiny population of the republic – about 900,000 people – limits opportunities for expansion of palm oil use. The scale of the processing industry is also small, although the food and beverage sector has a dominant role in it. Still, demand for palm oil has been reasonably stable over the past five years.