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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

It is anticipated that Germany may experience a dearth of sunflower oil in 2023.

A year ago, sunflower oil suddenly became the new rarity, similar to toilet paper at the start of the pandemic. To the delight of consumers, according to the Association of the German Oilseed Processing Industry (Ovid), its supply has returned to normal despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The association expects Germany to grow fewer sunflowers again this year after farmers doubled the area sown last summer in hopes of high producer prices.

One of the consequences of the Ukrainian conflict was the shortage of sunflower oil in several European countries. In a very short time, its price on the international market rose from 700 euros to more than 1,100 euros per ton, according to EU data. Previously, Ukraine was the world’s largest exporter, including for EU states.

But today we can already say without a doubt that “Ukrainian exports of sunflower seeds, sunflower oil and rapeseed have almost returned to the previous level and are flowing smoothly to Germany,” said a representative of Ovid in Berlin.

Cultivation area doubled

“In the context of the conflict in Ukraine, sunflower areas in Germany have more than doubled,” said farmers’ chairman Joachim Ruckwid. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the cultivated area has increased to 86,000 hectares, more than double that of 2021.

But in the end, the 2022 harvest turned out to be less rosy for farmers than they had hoped for last spring: “Producer prices have collapsed again”, says Munich farmer Alexander Grunwald, who s specializes in growing sunflower in previous years. . “When we harvested last year’s crop, we had the same prices as before the conflict.”

Not only have prices fallen again, but the harvest itself has not been so good: “The area planted has doubled, but the amount of sunflower seeds harvested has been proportionally much smaller,” the president said. of the farm, Rookweed. “Therefore, we assume that the sown area will decrease further this year.” The centers of sunflower cultivation in Germany are Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt, followed by Bavaria.

About a million tons less

Due to the situation last year, “many food manufacturers have switched from sunflower oil to rapeseed oil or are increasingly relying on blends of vegetable oils”, said said an Ovid spokesperson. Indeed, Germany is less dependent on imports of rapeseed than sunflower. According to Ovid, the area devoted to rapeseed increased for the fourth consecutive year and amounted in 2022 to around 1.1 million hectares.

However, according to representatives of the oilseed industry, this does not fully cover domestic consumption. In any case, the conflict in Ukraine has harmed edible oil producers. German oil mills processed about 12 million tons of oilseeds in 2022, about a million tons less than a year earlier, according to Ovid. High energy prices create problems for businesses because oil mills are energy intensive. The industry’s competitiveness is “collapsed,” says an association spokesperson. “Like other regions, we face the specific danger of migration from Germany as a place of business. And the main reason for this situation will be the constantly increasing production costs.

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