Sunflower Market Update – October 2023

Sunflower Kernels - Bakery grade in Bulk. Excellent quality, plastic free packaging

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Sunflower Market Overview

Bulgaria, the EU’s largest sunflower seed importer, has introduced a ban on sunflower imports from Ukraine until the end of November 2023. The question of whether the ban will be lifted afterward and on what basis remains a key point of interest.

Bulgaria was the top EU importer of sunflower seeds from Ukraine in 2022-23, with a 38% share in total EU imports. Other main EU producing countries like Romania, Hungary are expected to increase their production from the 2023 crop. Meanwhile, Ukrainian sunflower producers are eagerly awaiting the resumption of their export activity to Bulgarian buyers.

Current Sunflower Challenges

Bulgaria Banned Ukrainian Imports

The ban on sunflower seeds coming from Ukraine was introduced by Bulgaria after country intense protests by farmers. Farmers argue that they are struggling to compete with cheaper imported sunflower seeds from Ukraine and are advocating for tighter restrictions on imports until local producers can secure better prices.

Tensions Between Farmers and Processors

The influx of Ukrainian sunflower seeds has undercut local production prices, leading to a stockpile of over 600 000 tons of Bulgarian sunflower from the previous year’s harvest, still awaiting buyers. According to Yani Yanev, chairman of the Oilseed Oil Producers Association in Bulgaria:

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There is enough sunflower; the problem is the prices offered on the market, which are lower than the cost price of the sunflower produced. They are waiting for a better price – and they have every right to do that

Bulgaria 2023 Harvest Reduction

Farmers have harvested about 93% of the total sunflower acreage from the 2023 crop, resulting in 1.52 million tons so far, which marks a 24% reduction compared to last year. The average sunflower yield stands at 1,90 t/ha and has decreased by nearly 16% compared to the previous year. In 2022, Bulgaria produced 2.12 million tons of sunflower seeds, accounting for 23% of the EU’s entire production.

Sunflower seeds being harvested

Sunflower Market Trends

Ukraine Increased Sunflower Production in 2023

Ukraine anticipates an increase in sunflower seed harvest in 2023, estimated at 13.7 million tons, a 9% increase from 2022, according to APK-Inform. However, due to a reduction in carry-over stocks by 98%, the total supply will decrease by 16%. The total volume of sunflower seed processing in 2023/24 is projected to reach 12.4 million tonnes (-11%), although this projection hinges on various factors.

Sunflower Kernels Production in 2023

Sunflower kernels production, particularly of the bakery grade, has gained momentum. Most producers are operating at full throttle and have sufficient coverage until Q4. Kernels processors are already offering contract volumes already for Q1 and even Q2 of 2024 at competitive prices. Low raw material prices have rendered these products attractive to buyers.

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Confectionery Sunflower Production in 2023

In contrast to bakery grade , confectionery sunflower kernels production is facing limitations. Primarily due to lower yields in Bulgaria from this year’s crop. Producers are concerned about further availability, resulting in firm prices, with no expectations of a decrease this season.

Organic Sunflower Production in 2023

While official statistics on organic sunflower seed production in Bulgaria are not available, prices have been on a consistent decline since weeks. In comparison to last year prices, current levels are 20-30% lower, making organic sunflowers kernels more attractive to the buyers.

Sunflower Kernels in the bowl

Sunflower Market Summary

Low sunflower seed prices offered by Ukrainian farmers come with a story. Ukraine heavily depend on export activities. The bans and quotas imposed in several EU countries or Turkey, have compelled them to sell their raw materials at more affordable rates recently.

However, here’s the twist – once those international barriers come down, and exports regain it’s momentum, Ukrainian farmers are poised to raise their prices both domestically and abroad.

The question arise: Is this the ideal moment to purchase sunflower kernels? While they might have been more budget-friendly in the past, the consistent pricing stability over the last few months suggests that prices may have hit rock bottom. As we move forward, it’s likely that we’ll witness some price corrections.




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Piotr Goral

Co-Founder of Seedea

+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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