The birth and history of SFEL are closely linked to the state of the fats industry in France after the Second World War: in 1943, the meat shortage led to a scarcity of animal fats. Peanuts, palm kernels and palm oil arrived in France from Africa with very little to spare. The fats industries had to adapt to the raw materials distributed to them by the Office Central de Répartition des Produits Industriels (OCRPI), no matter how unusual: in particular rapeseed, grapeseed, linseed, and sometimes synthetic fats for soap-making.

In factories often damaged by the war and short-staffed, technicians had to adapt their technologies to unfamiliar raw materials, often of dubious quality, and were faced with entirely new problems such as the corrosion of equipment by sulfur-containing rapeseed products, or products more akin to bricks than soap, since in 1944 soaps ended up containing 90% mineral filler.

At that time, French specialists in fatty substances - researchers, laboratory staff and factory technicians - were almost totally cut off from their foreign colleagues, and even from their French colleagues in a country divided into three "zones" by hard-to-cross "borders". There were no longer any international meetings, and it was virtually impossible to obtain foreign scientific journals.

However, the population's supply of fats was very inadequate (the official ration fell to 10g per day, and was not always met), and could only be maintained by developing research and innovation. To this end, two research institutes were set up on the initiative of the public authorities:

But these two technical centers, which operate under the control of the public authorities, are not designed to enable exchanges of ideas and meetings between all those involved in the oils and fats industry. 

Some of them, first and foremost Jean Ripert, Director of Société Thibaud-Gibbs, thought it desirable to set up an association where they could meet to compare their experiences and solutions to the many problems of the time.

This led to the creation of the "Groupement Technique des Corps Gras" (1943-1968), headquartered at the Maison de la Chimie in Paris, which became the "Association Française des Techniciens des Corps Gras" from 1969 to 1973, then the "Association Française pour l'Etude des Corps Gras" in 1973.

In 2010, the association changed its name once again, becoming the Société Française pour l'Etude des Lipides (French Society for the Study of Lipids).