Export of Ukrainian sunseeds reached an 11-year high,due to high buyer prices

18 May 2022 | Anna Platonova

Sunseed exports from Ukraine have reached an 11-year high since the beginning of the season, after lockdowns of ports and a decline in sunoil exports led to lower demand from local crushers and prices for sunseeds in the local market, prompting sellers to boost their export sales.

According to customs statistics, from May 1 to May 15, Ukraine exported 140,071 tons of sunflower seeds, bringing total exports since the beginning of the marketing year to a record 311,711 tons.

That is already almost 39% higher than sunflower exports in the 2020/21 season.

However, the volumes reported by customs do not reflect the exact volumes transshipped, as there remain huge queues at the borders and along the Danube River which are delaying physical delivery.

“How many will go for export - I can’t guess, the queues at the borders are long,” one trader based in Ukraine told Agricensus.

Export and Prices

Sunflower prices range from UAH13,000/mt ($374/mt) to UAH16,000/mt ($460/mt) CPT for local crushers, depending on region and oil content, with maximum price levels from UAH15,000/mt ($431/mt) for crushers in the western regions.

In western Ukraine, sunflower is offered at prices up to UAH25,000/mt ($719/mt) CPT.

However, European buyers' prices for Ukrainian sunflower are more than 1.5 times higher and are falling within the range of $700/mt DAP Romania and up to $750/mt DAP Bulgaria, while Turkish buyers are willing to pay up to $905-908/mt CIF Mersin.

The competition of Ukrainian sunseeds with local sunseeds in Bulgaria and Romania is increasing due to a significant difference in price.

Offers from Bulgarian farmers come in at prices ranging from $850/mt EXW or $880-900/mt CPT, while Ukrainian sunflower is available at prices ranging from $750-770/mt CPT.

"Due to the increase in the flow of Ukrainian origin sunseeds, local plants are not ready anymore to pay a significant premium to local sunflower sellers," Petar Dimitrov, senior broker and founder of Agricore told Agricensus.

According to market estimates, the main buyers of sunseeds are Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Turkey, and other countries, which in principle reflects the geography of buyers in previous seasons.

Exports of sunflower from Ukraine are currently mostly carried out by trucks, via ferries, as well as through railway and other maritime infrastructure.

According to the customs statistics service, as of May 16, 35% of sunflower seeds were exported by trucks, 7% by rail, 21%, and 38% by sea and ferry, respectively.

Previously, sunflower exports from Ukraine were slower and monthly shipments ranged from 2,500 tons to 69,000 tons.

Market participants assume that active sunflower exports from Ukraine will last on average for a month before the first batches of the new rapeseed crop in the EU enter the market.

At the end of the season, the total market estimates of sunflower exports by market participants fall in a wide range, from 550,000 tons to up to 2 million tons.

According to USDA expectations, sunflower exports from Ukraine by the end of the 2021/22 season will amount to 350,000 tons.

Ukrainian sunseeds stocks

Market analysts estimate the stock levels for sunseeds at the beginning of May in Ukraine-controlled and liberated regions at the level of 5-6 million mt.

Active hostilities in the East (Luhansk, Donetsk regions) and the South of Ukraine (Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Mykolaiv regions), as well as the active export of Ukrainian agricultural products, including sunflower, from the occupied territories to Russia, will lead to irretrievable losses of sunflower in the range of 1.2-1.4 million mt, according to APK-Inform analysts.

Market sources based in Ukraine estimate that sunflower stocks by the end of the 2021/22 marketing year will be in the range of 4-5 million mt.

“Operating factories are running at minimum capacity, given the problems with the export of finished products,” the Ukrainian crusher said.

According to USDA estimates, sunflower stocks by the end of the season will amount to 4.55 million tons, which is a record value for the Ukrainian market.