Black Sea Conflict Blackens Sunflower Markets

Mar 25, 2022

The war in Ukraine is causing a specialty crop and oilseed scramble.

Ukraine is the world’s top exporter of sunflower oil. Because of the escalating conflict there, the price of sunflower oil has increased by 64% last week alone, according to official data. The expected supply shortfall has consumers stocking up, with sales of all edible oils increasing by 289% compared to the same week in 2021. The Black Sea region is also considered a major breadbasket, so the wheat supply could also be affected.

The flipside: Opportunities are blooming in countries like Spain and the U.S. to fill in some of the gaps.

The Spanish government is presenting one of Spain’s major staples as an alternative to sunflower oil: olive oil. The country produces more olive oil than it needs domestically and already exports a third of what it produces. Spain also has options to increase its market and sell more to neighboring France and Germany.

Meanwhile, high-priced specialty crops will influence U.S. farmers’ planting decisions this spring. States like the Dakotas, Kansas, and Texas could see some sunny profits from sunflowers.

Farmers might also consider other short- and medium-term specialty crop and oilseed market opportunities: Crops like safflowers, peanuts, cottonseed, flaxseed, canola, and soybeans could get their time in the sun.