Despite the worst drought in 60 years that affected Argentine agriculture in 2022, sunflower cultivation emerges as a leader in the 2022/23 campaign. It recorded record figures in production, milling and marketing locally and internationally. The strength of the sunflower, not without challenges, stood out amid an ever-changing agricultural market.
In Argentina, the sunflower not only resisted the climatic attacks but also positioned itself strategically in the global market, as explained in a report from the Rosario Stock Exchange (BCR). Despite fluctuations in prices, influenced by external events such as the situation in Russia, the crop shows an upward profile in the 2023/24 campaign, especially in the context of the global increase in the consumption of vegetable oils.
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Meanwhile, sunflower production exhibited notable strength, although the upcoming campaign could face challenges, such as fear of a possible increase in export duties that threatens the competitiveness of the sector. With more than 82% of the sunflower supply destined for oil factories, the production chain faces significant challenges.
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In this context, the oil sector experienced a significant soybean deficit in 2023, which promoted greater use of sunflower as a raw material, exceeding the levels of previous years. According to reports from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (SAGyP), the volume of sunflower crushing in the 2022/23 campaign reached 3.9 million tons, marking the maximum of the decade and the second highest in the last 20 years.
Production and planted area of sunflower. (Source: BCR).
In 2023, sunflower exports reached a decade high of 2.22 million tons
In May 2023, the highest volume of sunflower trading was recorded in the local market in the last 6 years. It reached more than 3.6 million tons traded in contracts and fixings, which represents an increase of 35% compared to the last 3 years. This outstanding commercial performance placed 2023 as the second most active year in terms of local marketing, surpassed only by 2019.
Sunflower: final operations with prices in the local market (Tons). (Source: BCR).
The month of May stood out as the period with the highest traded volume, totaling 788,353 tons. This increase was driven by the inclusion of sunflower in the Export Increase Program, which facilitated the settlement of agricultural exports at a differential exchange rate.
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In addition, exports of the sunflower complex reached their highest point of the decade, with 2.22 million tons, according to INDEC data, marking the highest volume since the 2005/06 campaign.
Despite this increase, the complex's exports, which include seeds, pellets and oils, saw a 26% decline in value terms in 2023 compared to the previous year, due to falling prices. Even so, the US$1,488 million of sunflower exports in the 2022/23 campaign represent the second highest amount of the decade.
Exports in value and quantity in the sunflower complex. (Source: BCR).
However, despite the decrease in the planted area for the next campaign due to factors such as lower margins and unfavorable humidity conditions, the sunflower in Argentina demonstrated extraordinary resistance, the BCR explained.
Although both external and internal challenges present themselves, the sector's ability to navigate this complex environment will determine future prospects. Balancing internal challenges with opportunities in the global market will be crucial to consolidate its position and contribute to the Argentine agricultural landscape in the coming years, they concluded from the BCR.