November 7, 2019

13% of the Raw Material used in Brazilian Biodiesel is Beef Tallow

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Brazil continues to increase its use of biodiesel, which is a mixture of petroleum diesel and vegetable oils and/or animal fats. Currently, 11% of Brazil's diesel is biodiesel (B11) and that will gradually increase to 15% (B15).

The primary source of vegetable oil for the production of biodiesel in Brazil is soybean oil, but according to legislation passed in 2005 as part of the National Program for the Production and Use of Biodiesel, the percentage of soybean oil used in biodiesel is capped at 80%. The remaining 20% was reserved for other types of vegetable oils or animal fats. Currently, the second largest source of raw material for biodiesel production is beef tallow.

In 2018, 70% of the raw material used in Brazil's biodiesel production was soybean oil followed by beef tallow at 13%. Other animal fats from hogs and chickens are also used, but to a smaller degree. According to researchers from Embrapa, biodiesel manufactures will continue to increase the percentage of beef tallow because it helps to avoid solidification of the biodiesel.

This is obviously good news for the meat processing industry because it is another use of an animal byproduct and a source of renewable and clean energy. According to the Brazilian Association of Animal Recycling (ABRA), most of the animal fats used in biodiesel production are from larger facilities that are located close to biodiesel facilities. Biodiesel production has become the most important use of beef tallow, but many of the medium and smaller meat processing facilities do not utilize the tallow for biodiesel. As a result, there appears to be ample supplies of beef tallow in Brazil to continue increasing its use in biodiesel.

The percentage of beef tallow utilized in biodiesel varies by regions in Brazil. The highest percentage is in northern Brazil at 37% with the lowest percentage of 6% in the center-west region. Generally, the more soybeans and soybean oil produced in a region, the less beef tallow that is utilized.