Ukraine's surging sunseed exports 'unacceptable' - ministry

High exports could have "unpredictable negative consequences"
calendar icon 5 February 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Ukraine's sunflower seed exports have rocketed so far this season and the farm ministry said on Thursday this "unacceptable" trend could destroy one of the country's most lucrative agricultural sectors, reported Reuters.

The agriculture ministry said in a statement a total of 2.75 million tonnes of sunseed were exported in the 2022 calendar year while the volume did not exceed 100,000 tonnes a year before the war which Russia calls a "special military operation".

The ministry said 70% of the exports was directed to the European Union and 20% to Turkey.

The surge is exports of seeds rather than refined oil reflects disruptions to refining in Ukraine in the wake of Russia's invasion last February.

Ukraine used to be the world's leading producer and exporter of sunflower oil, but the invasion has seen it lose control of part of its territory while hostilities have disrupted operations in other regions.

The ministry said that local sunoil producers warned that high sunseed exports could have "unpredictable negative consequences" for the sector.

"This could lead to a shutdown of oilseed processing plants, a catastrophic decline in sunflower oil production... loss of global markets for high value-added products, job losses and budget revenue, which is unacceptable," the ministry said.

Ukraine exported 5.3 million tonnes of sunoil in the 2020/21 September-August season while the volume declined to 4.5 million tonnes in 2021/22 due to the Russian invasion which blocked Ukrainian Black Sea ports in the second half of the season.

A significant part of Ukrainian sunoil refineries were forced to stop production in the first months of 2022 due to blocked ports and impossibility of exports.

The country's oilseeds combined harvest also fell to 17.4 million tonnes from 22.8 million tonnes in 2021.

The ministry gave no 2022/23 sunoil production forecast while analyst APK-Inform sees it falling to 4.6 million tonnes from 5.0 million tonnes in 2021/22.

After an almost six-month blockade, three Black Sea ports were unblocked at the end of July under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.

Sunoil export has reached 2.26 million tonnes so far in the current season, the ministry said.

"Traditionally, sunflower oil has always been exported by sea, as the logistics of land transportation for this product are not well established, so the normal operation of waterways is extremely important for the export of Ukrainian sunoil," the ministry

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