The Potential of Sesame Seed By-products: Uses, Export Value, and Future Opportunities

Sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum) are renowned for their rich nutritional profile and versatility in culinary applications. Beyond their direct use as a food ingredient, sesame seeds yield several by-products that hold significant economic and industrial value. This article delves into the various by-products of sesame seeds, their uses, export value, and the untapped potential they offer.

By-products of Sesame Seeds

  1. Sesame Oil Cake:
    • Description: After the extraction of oil from sesame seeds, the remaining solid residue is known as sesame oil cake.
    • Uses:
      • Animal Feed: Rich in protein and minerals, sesame oil cake is an excellent feed for livestock, promoting growth and health.
      • Fertilizer: Due to its high nutrient content, it serves as an organic fertilizer, enhancing soil fertility and crop yield.
    • Export Value: Major sesame oil-producing countries such as India, China, and Myanmar export sesame oil cake, especially to regions with high demand for animal feed and organic fertilizers, like Southeast Asia and parts of Africa.
  2. Sesame Hulls:
    • Description: These are the outer coverings removed from sesame seeds during processing.
    • Uses:
      • Biomass Fuel: Sesame hulls can be used as biomass fuel due to their high calorific value, offering a renewable energy source.
      • Mulching Material: They are also used in agriculture as a mulching material to conserve soil moisture and prevent weed growth.
    • Export Value: Countries like Ethiopia, which produce hulled sesame seeds in large quantities, can export sesame hulls for bioenergy production, especially to countries focusing on renewable energy sources.
  3. Sesame Meal:
    • Description: Similar to sesame oil cake, sesame meal is the by-product of oil extraction but in a finer, meal-like form.
    • Uses:
      • Food Ingredient: It is utilized in the food industry for making protein-rich health supplements and bakery products.
      • Cosmetics: The high protein content and antioxidant properties make it a valuable ingredient in cosmetics for skin and hair care products.
    • Export Value: The global demand for plant-based proteins and natural cosmetics is driving the export potential of sesame meal, particularly to markets in North America and Europe.

Economic and Export Value

Sesame seed by-products contribute significantly to the agricultural economies of major sesame-producing countries. For instance, India, which is one of the leading producers and exporters of sesame seeds, also exports substantial quantities of sesame oil cake and meal. The export of these by-products not only adds to the country’s revenue but also helps in managing agricultural waste efficiently.

In 2023, the global market for sesame oil cake was valued at approximately $1.2 billion, with projections indicating steady growth due to the rising demand for organic livestock feed and fertilizers. Similarly, the sesame meal market is experiencing robust growth, driven by the increasing consumer preference for plant-based proteins and natural health products.

Potential and Future Prospects

The potential of sesame seed by-products is vast and largely untapped. Innovations in processing and value addition can further enhance their utility and market value. Here are some potential areas of growth:

  1. Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods: With the growing health consciousness among consumers, sesame meal and oil cake can be developed into high-protein, nutrient-dense functional foods and dietary supplements.
  2. Bioenergy: Investing in the technology to convert sesame hulls into bioenergy can provide a sustainable and eco-friendly energy source, reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
  3. Sustainable Agriculture: Expanding the use of sesame by-products as organic fertilizers can promote sustainable farming practices, improving soil health and productivity.


The by-products of sesame seeds, including sesame oil cake, hulls, and meal, offer immense value across various industries, from agriculture to energy and cosmetics. Their export not only contributes to the economies of sesame-producing countries but also supports global demand for sustainable and organic products. By exploring and investing in the potential of these by-products, countries can enhance their agricultural sustainability and economic growth, turning what was once considered waste into valuable resources.

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