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Sunflower prices continue to move higher

Sunflower

Sunflower prices, which were already high, continued to push to all-time highs in early May largely as a result of the war in Ukraine.

“The conflict in Ukraine pushed sunflower prices to all-time record highs this spring. Previous market highs of $38.80 for old crop and $30.50 for new crop were surpassed in late April at the crush plants,” commented John Sandbakken, National Sunflower Association (NSA) executive director, in the May 9 NSA newsletter.

“The rally has continued setting fresh highs each week as the lack of global sunflower seed availability and strong oil demand have encouraged crushers to pay more for the available crop,” he said. “Sunflower oil exporters are reportedly fielding unprecedented call volumes from new customers seeking to replace Black Sea sunflower oil.”

A look at the regional crush plants shows how much sunflower prices have risen. As of May 9, NuSun sunflower was listed at $40 per hundredweight for delivery in May and June at the Cargill plant in West Fargo, N.D. At the ADM plant in Enderlin, N.D., the May/June delivery price for NuSun sunflower was $39.50.

High-oleic sunflower prices at Cargill in West Fargo were listed at $40.40 for delivery in May and June, while at ADM in Enderlin the price of high-oleic sunflower for delivery in May and June was $40.

Sandbakken also noted that 2022 new crop prices at the crush plants were also moving higher. Cargill in West Fargo was offering $33.20 cash and $32.70 with an Act of God (AOG) clause for 2022 new crop NuSun sunflower, while ADM in Enderlin was offering $33.10 cash and $32.40 with an AOG.

High-oleic 2022 new crop prices were $34.20 cash and $33.70 with an AOG at West Fargo, and $34.105 cash and $33.40 with an AOG at Enderlin. Elsewhere in North Dakota, the Pingree plant was offering $33.80 cash for 2022 new crop high-oleic sunflower and Hebron was offering $33.10 cash.

“The high prices have encouraged farmers to sell off most remaining seed stocks in the past few months,” Sandbakken noted. “For 2022-23, global sunflower seed production is going to be a moving target depending on what actually gets planted in Ukraine this year.”

Sandbakken pointed out that Ukraine is one of the major producers and exporters of sunflower oil accounting for 50 percent of global sunflower oil trade with 5.3 million metric tons (MMT) in 2020-21. Russia was the second leading exporter of sun oil exporters this past year with about 3.3 MMT. Prior to the start of the conflict in late February, Ukraine’s sun oil exports were projected at about 6.7 MMT.

Whether Ukraine’s farmers will be able to get spring crops planted is a big concern for the market as is their ports being under siege and whether their supply chains will allow adequate shipments of fuel, fertilizer, and so on.

“The war in Ukraine has left much uncertainty of what seed availability will be like this year and potentially in 2023, as well,” he said. “The events in Ukraine escalated an already tight vegetable oil market. Global vegetable oil prices skyrocketed in the past few months to record levels.

“The conflict between Ukraine and Russia bears watching as it has significantly increased the uncertainty of the agricultural supply and demand conditions in the region and globally. With lower than anticipated acres, diversifying market risk with some sunflower acres would be a good option in 2022,” he concluded.

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