EU sunoil prices fall to 3 year low, biodiesel demand supports rapeoil

29 Feb 2024 | Anna Platonova

Ample supplies of sunoil in the European market have caused prices at European ports to fall to their lowest level in three and a half years and, despite this, have left demand at a minimum, while rapeseed oil prices have risen above sunoil for the first time since February 2022 due to continued demand for biofuels, according to Agricensus data.

At the same time, soybean oil has lost its premium over other oils as soybean processing in the region has increased.

The underperformance of Black Sea ports due to Russia's war in Ukraine, the situation in the Red Sea, and difficulties in operating alternative routes, have meant large volumes of sunflower oil are flowing to Europe at lower prices, putting pressure on the market.

However, the availability of cheaper offers has not triggered an increase in demand, market sources said, as the European market is flooded with sunflower oil.

“Conceptually it should be the opposite - lower price better demand - but there is no demand because the EU has flooded with sunflower oil due to the Red Sea situation and most players are well covered,” a European trader told Agricensus.


One of the results of the increase in Ukrainian supplies of sunflower oil at lower prices is a decrease in imported soybean and palm oils.

According to data from the European Commission, imports of sunflower oil by EU countries have increased by almost 30% to 1.6 million mt since July 2023, compared to the same period a year earlier.

The share of supplies of Ukrainian sunflower oil in these imports increased from 89.7% in 2023 to 92.6% in 2024.

According to Agrcensus monitoring, prices for sunflower oil at six European ports for delivery in the second quarter of 2024 fell to $915/mt (€845/mt) FOB against $900/mt  (€831/mt) FOB, which is the lowest level since September 2020, when the average price was $855/mt /mt FOB.

“Sunflower oil in Europe lost a lot of demand to other oils when Ukraine and Russia started offering more active,” a European crusher told Agricensus.

At the same time, the cost of sunflower seeds in EU countries remains quite high, despite the high influx of sunflower oil from Ukraine.

According to industry association FEDIOL, the sunflower crush by EU countries in the first five months of the 2023/24 season increased by 9% to 2.4 million mt compared to the previous season, with the January crush amounting to 571,000 mt, which is the highest level since October 2021.

According to US Department of Agriculture data, in the current season, imports of sunflower oil by countries of the economic bloc will reach the highest level over the past ten years at 2.35 million mt.


Even though the supply of sunflower oil has increased and prices have fallen, rapeseed oil prices remain high.

Stable demand from biodiesel production and a reduction in rapeseed crushing in favor of soybeans by large crushers is supporting prices.

“Biodiesel is still having healthy margins and rapeseed oil is the major product for them,” a trader based in the EU said.

At the same time, FEDIOL data shows that during November, December 2023, and January 2024, rapeseed crushed by European processors reached levels of 1.73-1.79 million mt per month, some of the highest seen.

According to Agricensus data, rapeseed oil for delivery in March is offered at €890/mt FOB Rotterdam, against the buyer’s idea of €855/mt, and in April €875/mt FOB Rotterdam against €850/mt.

In addition, low sales of rapeseed by farmers have kept the rapeseed oil market in good shape.

“Due to depressed seed prices and farmers not willing to sell the seeds, the overall rapeseeds oil structure elevated,” the trader said.


Soybean oil has meanwhile lost its premium to other vegoils in Europe as some of the major crushers have turned to soybean processing due to demand for soybean oil-based biodiesel in the US.

Soybean crushing by European crushers in December and January increased to an average of 1.17 million mt, the highest level in the past five months.

At the same time, prices for soybean oil have fallen by more than 25% since October 2023 to €850/mt FCA Hamburg.