China ratchets up sunflower seed meal imports

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Gettyimages/lya_Starikov
© Gettyimages/lya_Starikov
Historically, global sunflower seed meal consumption has been dominated by the leading sunflower seed producers and processors, such as the EU, Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey, but other countries have recently emerged as growing users.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) noted the development in its latest oilseeds market update​.

In 2017/18, China became a significant sunflower seed meal importer after its Ministry of Agriculture and General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) signed sanitary and phytosanitary protocols and requirements for sunflower seed meal imports from Ukraine, In 2017/18.

The USDA has forecast that China will import 150,000 tons of sunflower seed meal this marketing year (MY) and this is likely to continue into the 2018/19 MY, as China’s demand for protein feedstuffs continues to grow.

In 2018/19, the US agency projects that global sunflower seed meal imports will grow to 7.6m tons, on strong demand in the EU, but also driven by continuing demand in emerging markets such as India, Pakistan, and China.

“Many countries view sunflower seed meal as a very nutritious animal feed, often preferred over soybean meal due to its non-biotech origin.

“However, due to limited production and constraints to expansion, the sunflower seed meal market is likely to remain considerably smaller than rapeseed meal and soybean meal.”

Falling soybean prices  

Soybean prices have fallen in response to a weakening in the Brazilian real, rising soybean supplies in South America, and good crop prospects in the US, according to the USDA note.

It reported that US export bids in May, FOB Gulf, averaged $406/ton, down $11 from April. In comparison, it said FOB Brazil Paranagua averaged $406/ton, down $24/ton from last month, while FOB Argentina Up River averaged $415/ton, down $6 from last month.

For the week ending May 31, US 2017/18 soybean exports to China totaled 28.7m tons compared to 35.9m a year ago. Total US soybean export commitments to the world are 55.6m tons, compared to 58.6m for the same period last year.

Looking forward

The USDA said global oilseed production for the marketing year (MY) 2018/19 is forecast slightly higher now at 594 million tons.  

It projects soybean production at 355.2m tons as gains in Brazil will more than offset reductions for Ukraine. The US agency lowered the rapeseed crop forecast for MY 2018/19 citing reductions in the EU are to exceed gains for Russia. It forecasts that sunflower seed production in Argentina will be higher while the cottonseed forecast for China is lowered.

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