Conflict on the Black Sea: a review of Ukraine sunflowerseed
10.11.2022 13:35 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) —
The Russian invasion of Ukraine triggered a series of major impacts on the global oilseeds market. Prior to the conflict, Ukraine ranked as the top producer of sunflowerseed and top exporter of sunflowerseed products, representing about half of global trade in 2020/21. Though the situation is still ongoing, the
close of the marketing year (September 2021-August 2022) provides an opportunity to assess the impacts of the conflict on sunflowerseed trade flows.
Before the war, Ukraine produced sunflowerseed primarily to crush domestically and then exported the meal to China, the EU, and Turkey and oil to India, China, and the EU. The onset of hostilities dealt a massive blow to logistics, infrastructure, and port access as railways, roadways, and storage and processing facilities were all targets of Russian attacks. Domestic processors reduced operations, faced with both limited opportunities to export through regular maritime shipping routes and dwindling storage capacity. The resulting glut of unprocessed sunflowerseed found new export destinations in geographically accessible countries with available crush capacity such as the EU, Turkey, and Moldova.
Though shipments picked up significantly in September, less than a quarter million tons of sunflowerseed products departed Ukraine as part of the Black Sea Grains Initiative between its commencement on August 1, 2022 and the end of the marketing year. Given market dynamics, sunflowerseed products made up a small portion of total volume compared to feed grains and sunflowerseed shipments were minimal.
The shifts in destination and product type impacted global consumption as prices rose and exports fell. In the EU, access to inexpensive Ukraine sunflower seed for crush led to sunflowerseed meal and oil making up larger percentages of total oilseed consumption in MY 2021/22. In China, pandemic restrictions, a weaker economy, and sluggish consumption combined with high global vegetable oil prices and reduced supplies of Ukraine sunflowerseed oil contributed to lower total vegetable oil imports for the year.
In all, Ukraine exported more than seven-and-a-half times as much sunflowerseed, 26 percent less sunflowerseed meal, and 15 percent less sunflowerseed oil than in the previous year. The tumultuous year in trade has left the country with massively bloated sunflowerseed stocks heading into MY 2022/23.
The current-year trade forecasts for Ukraine sunflowerseed and products reflect lower production expectations as well as the assumption of continued distorted trade patterns and limited crush. Currently, Ukraine exports for MY 2022/23 are forecast at 1.95 million tons of sunflowerseed, 2.75 million tons of sunflowerseed meal, and 3.60 million tons of sunflowerseed oil. The EU is expected to continue importing large volumes of sunflowerseed due to drought impacts to its own oilseed crops.
Continued volatility in the region, damage to infrastructure, and the fragility of the Black Sea Grains Initiative remain points of uncertainty that will determine the volume and destination of exports able to leave the country.
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