The Challenge of Substituting Sunflower Oil for Imported Palm Oil: Evidence from Tanzania


June 8, 2018 - <>, David L. Tschirley, <>, and Titus Awokuse

Michael Olabisi, David L. Tschirley, David Nyange, and Titus Awokuse, 2018. The Challenge of Substituting Sunflower Oil for Imported Palm Oil: Evidence from Tanzania. Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Paper 99. East Lansing: Michigan State University.

Edible oil imports to Africa grew over 10% per year from 2006 to 2015, and accounted for 34% of the continent’s total growth in food imports over this period—the highest share of any food group. In the same period, several African countries experienced a boom in the local production and processing of oil-seeds. The combination of import growth and domestic production booms reveals a gap in the literature on the characteristics of edible oil demand in Africa. We begin to fill this gap by estimating own-price, cross-price, and expenditure elasticities of demand for palm, sunflower, and other edible oils in Tanzania. We apply a QUAIDS model to detailed household level data-focusing on palm and sunflower oil, because for the most part, palm oil is imported and sunflower is domestically produced. Our main finding is a surprisingly low level of substitution between the domestic and imported edible oils. Simulated budget shares from our estimates suggest that a 10% tariff increase on palm oil leads to less than a 0.06% change in the budget share of domestically produced sunflower oil. We identify other potential policy implications from our findings and highlight steps for further research.



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