Soyoil futures are on track to show a small loss in 2012 despite what might be thought a supportive fundamental background, after disappointing South American and US harvests of soybeans, from which the vegetable oil is produced.
However, the margin for soybean crushers was in soymeal, the other main product of soybean processing, used in animal feed.
Vegetable oils were more plentiful, as witnessed by the rise in palm oil stocks in Malaysia to record highs late in 2012, depressing prices to a three-year low.
Chicago soyoil at least managed to limit its decline to a two-year low, in November. But can a recovery in prices since then persist? Use of the vegetable in making biodiesel looks a key dynamic.
"For the current marketing year, the USDA projects soyoil consumption for the production of biodiesel at 4.9bn pounds.
"However, the Environmental Protection Agency has increased the minimum amount of domestic biodiesel consumption from 1bn gallons in 2012 to 1.28bn gallons in 2013. The increase of 280m gallons will require about 2.1bn pounds of additional feedstock, if biodiesel trade remains at the same level as in 2012.
"Biodiesel production could also exceed the minimum requirement in order to meet the advanced and total biofuel mandate for the year. The USDA projection of soyoil consumption implies that most of the increase in biodiesel production in the 2012-13 marketing year will come from feedstock other than soyoil. Alternatively, soyoil consumption will exceed the current USDA projection.
"In the first eight weeks of the 2012-13 marketing year, soyoil prices averaged $0.48 per pound, below the USDA projection for the year. Unless the biofuels mandate is amended, price strength could extend well into the future."
"Chicago soyoil prices largely underperformed the grains and oilseeds complex in 2012 as strong crush margins encouraged US soyoil production and global palm oil availability was high. Array
Q1 2013: 49 cents a pound
Q2 2013: 50 cents a pound
Q3 2013: 50 cents a pound
Q4 2013: 49 cents a pound
Forecast for quarter-average price, Chicago front futures contract
"We expect this dynamic will continue in early 2013, particularly given the supply shortage of soymeal, which continues to drive crush margins and thus crush volumes in the US.
"However, as US soybean supplies are drawn down after the first quarter 2013, and global soybean demand shifts to South America, we expect this will prove bullish for Chicago soyoil prices.
"We forecast the US will be in deficit for vegetable oils in the second half of 2012-13 as soybean crush volumes slow and the biofuel mandate increases.
"US biodiesel demand is likely to prove a key bullish factor for Chicago soyoil prices in mid-2013."
"The strong US soybean crushing pace has continued to increase the supply of soyoil on the market.
"This has been made evident by the strong plunge in oil prices. In addition, the start of the crush has also seen higher than average yields, helping to boost soyoil inventories.
"However, given the underperformance of bean oil of late, and the steep discount of the oil share of the crush compared to historical averages, we expect a gradual rebound in the oil share.
"Given the correlation between soybeans and soymeal, and our outlook for the complex, we expect bean oil to outperform meal in the coming weeks and months."