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Ukraine crisis: sunflower oil at risk within a month

With the current trend in consumption, stocks are destined to run out

The Ukrainian crisis also hits the seed oil industry hard, particularly in the sunflower segment. Within a month, with the current trend in consumption, stocks are destined to run out. Underlining the complexity of the situation is Assitol, the Italian association of the oil industry, a member of Federalimentare and Confindustria. "This conflict", warns Carlo Tampieri , president of the association's seed oil group, "is doing a lot of harm to our sector, as well as to consumers, because it makes it difficult to procure raw materials and, consequently, to business. of individual companies". The closure of the ports on the Black Sea has blocked the trade of the two largest sunflower producers in the world, Ukraine and Russia, which supply European industry, including Italy, exclusively by sea. The ships carrying oil or sunflower seeds are all stationary, particularly at Mariupol and Odessa, nerve centers of trade by sea.

The sunflower is the essential basis of numerous production lines, both food and non-food, of the Italian economy. They range from oil, appreciated by the food industry and in the bakery sector, to flours for zootechnical use and oleins, essential for the oleochemical and energy industry, for example for biodiesel, the industrial sector crosses different but equally important sectors. for our economy. In particular, the annual consumption of sunflower oil is around 770 thousand tons. It is used in the production of preserves, sauces, mayonnaise, spreadable condiments, all products intended for large food distribution. Furthermore, the Horeca world prefers it for frying. The Italian pressing industry produces only 250 thousand tons of crude oil: this is why the sector is aimed above all at Ukraine which, together with Russia, represents 60% of the world production of sunflower oil and about 75% of the world export of this product, to find the missing quantities.

According to data processed by Assitol, starting from 2015, thanks to the increase in consumption, the share of imports of crude oil from Ukraine has grown, passing from 54% to 63%. "These data reflect the weight of sunflower imports and the difficulty for the sector to move in a context of war, which sees transport not only to and from Ukraine, but from all of Eastern Europe", explains the president. From the beginning of the conflict to today, at least 50 thousand tons of crude sunflower oil have remained in Ukrainian ports and have never arrived in Italy. “If the war ended in the next few days, returning to normal would still be complex. However, the situation could become even more complicated, if the conflict continues, because the sowing, scheduled for spring, would skip”, Tampieri continues. “We urge the institutions to act reasonably. Any sanctions, such as duties or, worse, import bans, would be harmful not only for our sector, but for the entire Italian agri-food chain, at the same time causing a strong negative impact on Ukraine”, concludes.

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EFA News - European Food Agency