Renewable energy fueling inflation? USDA data compares rising bio-energy demand & edible oil prices over time

The demand for agricultural products like corn, soybeans and animal fats in bio-fuel production is driving up the prices of edible oils to historic levels, according to new data released by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

Renewable fuel policy changes could impact corn producers.

ThamKC –

The demand for agricultural products like corn, soybeans and animal fats used to produce biofuel is driving up the prices of edible oils to historic levels, according to new data released by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) as well as data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration on Oct. 19, 2023.

According to the USDA, the U.S. produces and consumes renewable energy sourced from agriculture and forestlands “on a commercial scale that impacts energy markets.” In 2022, U.S. ethanol production totaled about 15.4 billion gallons and combined biodiesel/renewable diesel production totaled about 3.1 billion gallons.

The new dataset, U.S. Bioenergy Statistics, combines different data sources to create a value-added product whose statistics highlight the biofuel-based demand for agricultural feedstocks. Significant biofuels include ethanol (made mostly from corn), biodiesel, and renewable diesel (which are made from vegetable oils as well as animal fats, waste oils, and greases).

According to the data collected from 2000 through the year 2021, as demand for biofuels increases over time, so does the price per pound for all types of edible oils in the set, which include plant-based oils like canola, corn, soybean, and sunflower oil as well as animal fats like lard and tallow.

Here is a look at how the price (in cents) per pound for these edible oils has changed over the last 21 years:

Canola Oil

2000: 17.6 cents per pound

2021: 85 cents/lb.

% change: 383% increase

Corn Oil (edible)

2000: 13.5 cents/lb.

2021: 58 cents/lb.

% change: 329.6% increase

Soybean Oil

2000: 14.1 cents/lb.

2021: 68 cents/lb.

% change: 382.2% increase


2000: 748 cents/lb.

2021: 1065 cents/lb.

% change: 42.4% increase


2000: 12.3 cents/lb.

2021: 63.3 cents/lb.

% change: 414.6% increase

Marion is a digital content manager for RFD-TV and The Cowboy Channel. She started working for Rural Media Group in May 2022, bringing a decade of experience in the digital side of broadcast media as well as some professional cooking experience to the team.
Agriculture Shows
From soil to harvest. Top Crop is an all-new series about four of the best farmers in the world—Dan Luepkes, of Oregan, Illinois; Cory Atley, of Cedarville, Ohio; Shelby Fite, of Jackson Center, Ohio; Russell Hedrick, of Hickory, North Carolina—reveals what it takes for them to make a profitable crop. It all starts with good soil, patience, and a strong planter setup.
Champions of Rural America is a half-hour dive into the legislative priorities for Rural America. Join us as we interview members of the Congressional Western Caucus to learn about efforts in Washington to preserve agriculture and tackles the most important topics in the ag industry on Champions of Rural America!
Farm Traveler is for people who want to connect with their food and those who grow it. Thanks to direct-to-consumer businesses, agritourism, and social media, it’s now easier than ever to learn how our food is made and support local farmers. Here on the Farm Traveler, we want to connect you with businesses offering direct-to-consumer products you can try at home, agritourism sites you can visit with your family, and exciting new technologies that are changing how your food is being grown.
Featuring members of Congress, federal and state officials, ag and food leaders, farmers, and roundtable panelists for debates and discussions.
Host Ben Bailey hops in the tractor cab, giving farmers 10 minutes to answer as many questions and grab as much cash as they can for their local FFA chapter.