Bulgaria’s sunflower seed prices have jumped 7% over the last few days as a late-running harvest leads to a lack of offers from local farmers while sunflower seed crushers have been forced to cover their demand, trade sources told Agricensus Tuesday.
The low sunflower supply has prompted crushers to raise their prices throughout the past week, with the market starting at $580-585/mt DAP on September 13 and hitting $620/mt DAP by September 17, Agricensus data shows.
The increases could be enough to halt crushers, trade sources said.
“Despite the rise in prices all last week, we see a low supply from farmers, which makes the market illiquid and unpredictable. These prices are already giving negative margins and we see several crushers stopping sunflower purchases for today,” a source at brokerage AgriVia told Agricensus.
“Each day prices go up as crushers and dehullers need the cargo. The percent of farmer sales is too low, perhaps only 25%, and they feel they can get more money so they sit and wait,” a second broker added.
The increase in prices and decrease in sales has occurred despite an expected increase in the region’s sunflower harvest, with Bulgaria on course to increase production by 10% to 1.92 million mt and Romania by 38% to 3.36 million mt, according to data from the European Commission.
However, local market sources expect the sunflower harvest in Bulgaria to reach 2.1-2.2 million mt but to only reach 3 million mt in Romania.
Sunflower harvesting in Bulgaria, according to local market sources, has been completed on less than 75% of the area and still lags behind harvests in previous years, with sunflower yields varying greatly from region to region.
“According to our estimates, yields are pretty different from area to area, but overall the average yield seems to be around or slightly above the 2.5 mt/ha benchmark, which makes us optimistic today,” brokerage AgriVia said.
The lack of sunflower offers from local sellers forces the market to look towards imported, cheaper sunflower.
“Today sunflower from Moldova and Romania is $10-20/mt cheaper,” the source at Agrivia said.
“We can’t easily foresee what the import will be until the end of the season, as it depends on the prices in both countries and the availability of sunflower seeds in Romania, but we would not be surprised to see a total import in Bulgaria from Romania and Moldova of 500,000-550,000 mt for the whole season,” the source added.