The largest private firm in the US said this week it will boost production capacity of coconut and palm kernel oil at its Netherlands plant by over 200,000 MT year, and palm oil by 300,000 MT a year.
As a result, capacity at the Botlek (Netherlands) facility will hit over one million MT a year.
"Our investment plans will allow us to meet our growing customer needs by further enhancing our base product portfolio," said Jos de Loor, head of Cargill's refined oils business in Europe.
Food manufacturers' demand for vegetable oils, such as palm and soybean, is growing as the increasingly health-conscious consumer turns away from animal fats, and opts for vegetable alternatives.
Today, soybean and palm oil account for over half of all oil consumed in the world.
Due to be completed by the third quarter of 2006, Cargill said it will also expand the refining capacity of sunflower and corn oil at its Izegem, Belgium facility by 75,000 MT, without disclosing the total output figure.
This latest investment from Cargill is a further demonstration of the US firm's ambitions to improve supplies to, and market share in, the European food industry.
Earlier this year Cargill broke ground on its first refinery in Russia. Sunflower, rapeseed and corn oil, as well as palm and coconut oil, will all pass through the new €46.1 million facility expected to be up and running by February next year.
The investment followed Cargill's announcement in December that it will increase its stake in the Romanian edible oils market, the third largest in the CEE region after Russia and Ukraine, with the acquisition of the local company Olpo Podari.
Cargill already controls around 10 per cent of Romania's silo capacity after the acquisition of Comcereal in 2004 gave it a comprehensive network of grain storage facilities in the Romanian grain belt in the Teleorman, Giurgiu, Ialomita and Galati regions. The acquisition of Olpo Podari allows it to move into the local market for oilseed crushing and refining.