In December, following the completion of harvest, sunflower prices don’t typically increase, but instead either hold steady or dip slightly. But this is 2020 and certainly not typical, so of course, prices are stronger than normal for this time period.
“Sunflower prices are stronger than normal for this time of the year at the crush plants as tight beginning seed stocks and strong oil demand has crush plants looking for seed supplies,” commented John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association, writing in NSA’s weekly newsletter on Dec. 7. “In the past week, nearby prices (were) up 5-40 cents per hundredweight with 2021 new crop unchanged to up 10 cents.”
In late November, Sandbakken noted that NuSun and high-oleic nearby prices had added 40-55 cents from earlier in the month, and that overall, NuSun and high-oleic prices continued to trade 60 cents to $1 per hundredweight higher than the 60-day moving average at the crush plants.
Looking at prices at the region’s crush plants, as of Dec. 7, NuSun sunflower was listed at $18.95 per hundredweight at Cargill in West Fargo, N.D., for delivery in December, and $19 for delivery in January. The price at ADM in Enderlin, N.D., was $18.75, for delivery in both December and January.
High-oleic sunflower prices were $18.85 for December delivery and $18.90 for delivery In January at West Fargo. At Enderlin the price was $18.75 for December and January delivery.
2021 new crop NuSun prices remained steady at $18.85 cash and $18.35 with an Act of God (AOG) clause at Enderlin, while new crop prices were $18.75 cash and $18.45 with an AOG at West Fargo.
High-oleic 2021 new crop prices at Enderlin were posted at $10.20 cash and $18.60 with an AOG, while West Fargo posted prices of $18.90 cash and $18.60 with an AOG.
Sandbakken also pointed out that bird food prices remained steady or moved up slightly depending on location.
“Bird food prices continue in a holding pattern, but we have seen some upward movement of 50 cents per hundredweight in some locations,” he said.
On the demand side, China has pulled back on purchases of sunflower and that’s a source of concern on the Chicago Board of Trade, according to Sandbakken.
“China is causing concern among traders as it has not made any large purchases since Nov. 9,” he said. “Smaller purchases have been made, but large purchases are lacking.
“This has led to falling prices (as) speculative investors who were long on the market, or had bet on higher prices, liquidate their positions, and sell their contracts,” he added.
Sandbakken also noted that drought-related concerns in the Black Sea region may lead to a reduction in sunflower production there, and a reduction in planted area in Argentina.
“Given the location of the crop losses, this bears watching as international trade would assume much of the impact and could open some market opportunities,” he said. “Overall price direction will be determined by export demand news and South American oilseed production prospects in the near-term.”