Will Bulgaria decide to ban imports of Ukrainian sunseed?

Source:  UkrAgroConsult

Article author:

The season of 2022/23

– The 2022 sunflower area was the highest ever (+10% compared to 2021/22);

– Yield (-3% y/y);

– Record harvest 2022 (+6% y/y).

– The record sunseed harvest in 2022 and the ban on imports from Ukraine in May 2023 changed the trends of the previous two seasons (2021/22 and 2020/21), when Bulgarian sunflower imports increased and exports decreased with domestic processing growth.

Sunflower seed. Foreign trade in 2022/23 (September-August):

  • Sunseed exports (+16% compared to 2021/22);
  • Sunseed imports (-37%);
  • Sunflower oil exports (+5%);
  • Sunflower oil imports (+87%).

 Forecast for 2023/24 

  • In 2023, farmers’ margins for sunflower seed decreased. This contributed to a redistribution of land – sunflower area was reduced in favor of corn.
  • Initial forecasts for the sunflower crop were optimistic (over 2 M mt), based on higher area and yield estimates. As the harvest progressed, forecasts were continually revised downwards:
  • area (-6% by 2022/23);
  • yield (-19%);
  • crop (-24%).

Bulgaria is continuing policy of restricting sunseed imports from Ukraine at least until 30 November 2023, when the import ban is due to expire, despite expectations of a smaller harvest and high crush demand. Time will tell what volumes will be imported from Ukraine, but we should not expect imports to be high.

Local demand will be partly met by high carry-over stocks and imports from Romania, the main European supplier of sunflower seeds.

According to UkrAgroConsult November forecast, Bulgaria will still not be able to avoid the decline in sunseed exports, domestic crushing and sunflower oil exports.

The sunseed import ban is rumored to be unpopular not only with the Bulgarian crushing industry. By December 2023, Bulgaria plans to negotiate with Ukraine the licensing regime for Ukrainian sunflower seed imports. So far there has been no official word on further action.

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