HO sunflower seed accounts for about 10% of the planting area in Ukraine – expert




High-Oleic sunflower seed accounts for 7-10% of the total planting area of this crop in Ukraine. This segment is still considered niche but has great prospects. Such assessment was expressed by the General Director of “MAS Seeds-Ukraine” Serhiy Tymoshenko at the XXI International Conference “Fat&Oil Industry-2023”, which is being held on October 23 in Lviv.

“In the pre-war years, at its peak, the planting area under sunflower seeds in Ukraine reached 6.5 mln ha. In the current year, 5.3 mln ha were planted. The decrease is caused by the war (occupied territories, military operations, destroyed or lost military equipment, shelling and mined territories, high prices for fertilizers and energy carriers, etc.). The HO segment takes mostly 7-10% of the total area. It is still considered a niche area, but some manufacturers no longer think so. This year, according to our estimates, seeds were sold on 420.000 ha. How much HO sunflower seed will be harvested from this area is a big question. It can be 70%, or maybe 50% of the total amount because some hybrids were taken simply as high-yielding ones. There is a certain downward trend compared to previous years, but it is not so bad because we understand that it affects the overall price of HO oil,” the speaker said.

He added that today Ukraine ranks second in the world in terms of HO sunflower oil production after France. This year, acreage decreased slightly due to premium reduction, but global demand for HO oil exceeds production.

“The global demand for HO oil is 2 mln tonnes, and the total production is 1.85 mln tonnes. So a shortage of this oil is expected – it will start from November-December. And this will lead to price growth. The growth of the premium to its maximum values is expected by the end of 2024. The main driver of the increase in demand for these products is the HoReCa industry," the speaker clarified.

According to the company's forecasts, next year Ukraine will plant about 5.5 mln ha with sunflower seeds if the occupied territories are not returned.

Sunflower seed remains one of the most profitable crops on the market, the expert emphasized.

“Let's compare… Sunflower seed price Ukraine (EXW) is 250 EUR/t, DAP price Italy – 395 EUR/t. Even taking into account the high cost of logistics, the farmer's profit increases in the case of exporting cars to Italy compared to selling them from the field,” S. Tymoshenko noted.

According to him, farmers are hesitating whether to plant HO sunflower seeds because of the instability of this segment.

“I think it is better to plant. In the worst case, you will be able to sell HO sunflower seeds as a normal one. The costs per hectare are the same, but if there is a premium, you will receive an additional margin. There are very high hopes that the premium will be quite significant this year,” the expert believes.