European rapeseed oil prices weaken on ample oilseed availability

As sunflower prices are more competitive and logistical issues in the Rhine waterway persist, buyers' appetite for rapeseed diminishes

Northwest European rapeseed oil prices have continued to slide into September, with spot prices edging closer to the €1,400 per tonne mark due to higher-than-expected feedstock availability and weaker demand for rapeseed oil.

Fastmarkets’ APM-26 Rape oil FOB Dutch Mill Rotterdam was assessed at €1,408.5 per tonne on Monday, down 15% since the beginning of August.

So far this year, rapeseed oil prices had fallen by a third from a peak of €2,120 per tonne recorded on May 23, when very tight availability pushed prices to a record high.

Front-month prices have been pressured by ample rapeseed availability as the EU’s 2022-23 harvest saw higher-than-expected yields.

The latest agency to increase rapeseed output was Strategie Grains, who pegged the EU’s rapeseed crop at 19.15 million tonnes, up 4% from previous estimates made in June.

“Rapeseed oil has become competitive, and it is at near parity with sunflower oil,” a trade source told Fastmarkets Agriculture.

More competitive sunflower prices and ongoing logistical issues in the Rhine waterway have meanwhile led to a lack of buying and stifled physical trade in rapeseed oil.

“New rapeseed oil sales are difficult due to persistent low water levels in the Rhine and a shortage of tank wagons to transport the oil,” the German oilseed union UFOP said in a report.

Low water levels on the Rhine remain a problem for grains and oilseeds and fuel and feed shipments transiting the river, with vessel operators forced to limit cargoes and assign additional surcharges to the regular cost of shipping.

Water levels at Kaub in Germany – an important chokepoint for freight transiting the Rhine – were estimated at 71 cm at 1 pm local time on Monday, according to projections from Germany’s Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV).

Vessel operators tend to reduce loads when river levels fall below 120 cm, thus leading to an increase in transport costs for goods and limiting trade.

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