Strong demand supports sunflowers

File photo of a sunflower crop in Manitoba. (MysticEnergy/Getty Images)

MarketsFarm — Global demand for sunflower oil is steadily increasing, according to Scoular’s Robert Deraas.

Deraas, director of the Scoular Co.’s sunflower and bird food division, explained Wednesday at CropConnect in Winnipeg that the majority of Canadian sunflowers are grown for oil purposes.

Increases in demand are driven largely by health-conscious consumers who use sunflower oil for cooking. Deraas noted the Asia-Pacific region “dominates” the global sunflower market, totaling 40 per cent of demand.

During the 2018-19 marketing year, almost 56 million tonnes of sunflowers were produced globally, with carryout stocks totaling just below four million tonnes.

For the coming year, carryout stocks are expected to decrease by about 20 per cent due to increased export demand from China and India. Global production is forecast at just over 58 million tonnes.

Deraas said the 2018-19 growing season was a “record-high production year,” but tight carryout stocks will support prices. The tight stocks-to-use ratio will buoy prices into 2020.

“That’s music,” he said. “You don’t get too many technical aspects like that.”

Planted acres for both confection and oilseeds in North America have decreased steadily over the past two decades, but increases in yields have more than made up for that loss.

Deraas credited the increases in yields to “particular farming practices,” as sunflowers do not have the same options for pest control as other crops.

— Marlo Glass reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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