By Edwig Ban
The military conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine has immediate consequences in food supply flows as well. These include cereals and oilseeds, especially sunflowers. Both the Russian Federation and Ukraine, the largest European producers, and among the largest in the world, have already announced these days the capping of sunflower oil exports and, most likely, its total ban on exports. There are retaliatory measures, on the part of the Russian side, and protective measures, on the part of the Ukrainian side, to the economic sanctions introduced by the European Union.
Under these conditions, in 2022 it is expected that the main producers of sunflower seeds in the EU, Romania, Bulgaria, France will be the main players on the sunflower oil market.
In 2021, the harvest of sunflower seeds in the EU-27 was considerably higher than the previous year. According to statistics from statista.com and Eurostat, over 10.3 million tonnes of sunflower seeds were produced in the European Community last year.
This was an increase of 14% over the previous year and translated into an increase of 10% compared to the average of recent years. The area of sunflower was also expanded compared to the previous year, although only slightly below 1% to 4.5 million hectares, 7% more than the five-year average.
Last year, Romania had a total production of about 3.3 million tons of sunflower seeds. In 2020, production was 2.2 million tons, and in 2019 3.5 million tons. With these values, our country manages to be the largest producer of sunflower seeds in the European Union.
Romania uses for domestic consumption approximately 1.2 – 1.3 million tons of a total sunflower crop estimated at 3-3.5 million tons for this year. This represents about 34 percent of EU production for this crop, which has a minimum yield of 2.75 tonnes per hectare, out of a sown area of 1.2 million hectares.
The lack of national processing units has forced producers to sell almost 2/3 of their raw harvest to countries such as Bulgaria (around 400,000 tonnes/year), Turkey (around 400,000 tonnes) per year), Hungary (around 220,000 tonnes/year), or to Asian or Western European countries (Netherlands, France, and Spain).
The same phenomenon seems to happen in 2022, which means significant losses for the Romanian economy.
After a very poor autumn and winter in precipitation, 2022 will urge farmers in crop production to cultivate a larger area with sunflower
On average, the area cultivated with sunflower in Romania represents 27-28 percent of the total area of the EU with this crop.
For several years, the sunflower oil production industry has diversified, with the advent of modern, low-capacity units following the investments of SMEs.
If the climatic conditions are normal, it is estimated that Romania will produce in 2022, 350000-400000 tons of sunflower oil. Domestic consumption is about 200,000 tons, according to market sources, so Romania could produce 60-70% more than it consumes.
The biggest players in the sunflower oil market by turnover are Bunge, Expur, Prutul, Global Grain.
By Edwig Ban