Sunflower Market Update – May 2024

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In this report, we’ll walk you through the recent twists and turns on Sunflower market, from the recent prices surges in Ukraine to the challenges faced by Bulgarian importers, as well as the promising opportunities emerging for Polish farmers.

We’ll also explore what’s been happening in conventional and organic sunflower markets, giving you a comprehensive view of the current market.

Sunflower Prices Surge in Ukraine

Since March 2024, Ukrainian sunflower seed prices have been on the rise. Demand for sunflower oil from traditional importers has rebounded after a significant decline in imports during the second half of 2023. Following a period of low prices, demand has picked up once again, leading crushing facilities to steadily increase the purchasing price for sunflower seeds in the domestic market. Meanwhile, exports of sunflower oil from Ukraine are nearing record export levels [1].

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The demand for the product in the current season from the key global importers was boosted by the more attractive price of sunflower oil compared to other vegetable oils, which resulted in the active increase of the sunflower processing by the Ukrainian mills – explained APK-Inform.

Crushing facilities are now actively seeking enough raw material to meet the demand for sunflower oil, while importers continue their purchases, resulting in the depletion of sunflower seed stocks from the 2023 crop. Meanwhile, sunflower production is expected to remain steady in 2024 in Ukraine, similar to the levels seen in 2023, with an estimated 5.8 million tons [2].

Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower Seeds

A Look at Bulgaria’s Sunflower Struggles in 2023/2024

Bulgaria has been one of the leading sunflower crushers in the EU and the largest exporter of sunflower oil for many years. However, last several months were extremely difficult for Bulgarian importers. Being unable to import sunflower seeds from Ukraine for most part of the season and competing with Turkish sunflower processors has also affected crushing possibilities of local companies.

Another big problem is that Bulgaria didn’t grow as many sunflowers seeds in 2023 as expected. They only grew 1.62 million tons, which is less than they anticipated. Because of this, Bulgaria needs to import more sunflower seeds from abroad for its crushers. But political actions are making it hard to bring in seeds from Ukraine – the largest European sunflower seed producer, making things even more uncertain and difficult [3].

Bulgarian crushers are getting sunflower seeds mainly local market but also from other nearby countries. Buying from countries like Romania, Moldova, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, and others. Even with this, the troubles with getting enough sunflower seeds continue.

The Rise of Sunflower Cultivation in Poland

A decade ago, the idea of sunflowers thriving across Polish fields as they have in recent seasons would have seemed improbable. Just under ten years ago, sunflower cultivation was considered niche, with only around 1 300 hectares dedicated to it in 2015, according to data from the Central Statistical Office (GUS).

In 2022, sunflower cultivation surpassed 64 000 hectares, and in the 2023 season, the area sown with sunflowers slightly declined to 54 000 hectares [4]. While the growth is substantial, there has been a noticeable slowdown in cultivation this year. Nevertheless, sunflowers remain one of the fastest-growing crops in Poland.

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A Season of Stability for Sunflower Kernels

Throughout the 2023/2024 season, the conventional sunflower kernels market remained surprisingly stable, keeping prices consistently low for the most part. However, come April, a noticeable shift occurred as prices began to increase, echoing the trends seen in the broader sunflower seed market and the demand coming from sunflower oil importers.

Once again, Bulgaria led the charge in sunflower kernels production in the season, maintaining its position as a market leader in kernels production. Meanwhile, Moldova emerged as a promising contender in the kernels market, showing increased production capabilities that caught the attention of buyers seeking diverse sources of sunflower kernels.

Due to lower prices of raw materials and slower demand in the first part of the season, many processors were able to finalize long-term contracts with customers for sunflower kernels.

Organic Sunflower Production in EU

While Bulgaria stands out as a leader in sunflower kernels production across Europe, the realm of organic kernels tells a bit different story. Here, the market is more diverse, with Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Romania joining the ranks as notable organic sunflower kernels producers.

Riped Sunflower on the fields
Riped Sunflower Fields

Organic sunflower production in the EU still lags behind conventional cultivation, but both volume and availability are experiencing rapid change. As demand continues to rise, growing organic sunflowers could become an interesting project for EU based farmers.

Additionally, study inform that cultivating organic sunflowers can be highly profitable for farmers, potentially sparking greater interest in this crop [5].

Sunflower Market Summary

The sunflower market has seen significant shifts recently. In Ukraine, prices surged last several weeks due to increased demand for sunflower oil, leading to rising exports. Conversely, Bulgarian oil crushers faced challenges due to political interventions on sunflower imports and lower-than-expected 2023 crop.

The conventional sunflower kernels market remained stable this season until April when prices began to slowly climb. Although organic cultivation lags behind conventional methods, growing interest and profitability potential could drive further adoption among EU farmers.

Further insights will be available in upcoming market reports.

Source: 

  1. “Exports of sunflower oil from Ukraine are close to record levels” available at:
    https://www.apk-inform.com/en/news/1541272 (accessed on May 9, 2024).
  2. “Ukraine plans same 2024 sowing area as 2023” available at:
    https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/ukraine-plans-same-2024-sowing-area-2023-has-concerns-wheat-quality-minister-2024-02-09/ (accessed on May 9, 2024).
  3. “Bulgarian Farmers Misguided in Believing Ukrainian Sunflower Harms Their Interests” available at:
    https://latifundist.com/en/interview/738-bolgarski-fermeri-pomilkovo-vvazhayut-shcho-ukrayinskij-sonyashnik-shkodit-yihnim-interesam–bolgarskij-trejder (accessed on May 9, 2024).
  4. “Jak rósł areał słonecznika w Polsce? Czy będzie 100 tysięcy hektarów?” available at:
    https://www.farmer.pl/produkcja-roslinna/inne-uprawy/jak-rosl-areal-slonecznika-w-polsce-czy-bedzie-100-tysiecy-hektarow,139113.html
    (accessed on May 9, 2024).
  5. ‘An Overview of Organic Sunflower Production in Romania” available at:
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/350099396_AN_OVERVIEW_OF_ORGANIC_SUNFLOWER_PRODUCTION_IN_ROMANIA (accessed on May 9, 2024).

Author

Piotr Goral Post Picture

Piotr Góral

Co-Founder of Seedea

piotr@seedea.pl

+48 500 831 909

For many years, together with his small team, he has been boosting the sales of Polish family companies that supply food ingredients (mainly organic) to different foreign markets. His role involves creating new business projects and managing sales. He loves visiting suppliers and farmers during his travels, gathering valuable information that he shares through his articles.

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