Sunflower (SF) is one of the most important oilseed crops in the world and strategic product in Russia. Global production grew steadily in last 25 years (figure 1). World SF harvesting area 2011/12 MY is 25.6 million ha with average yield 1,51 t/ha; total production is 38.9 million tons. For the season 2012/13 MY SF area enlarged by 1 million ha, the global average yield will go down by 3% to 1.47 t/ha; output is expected to increase in comparison with the previous period by 0.2 million ha, or by 0.5% to a record 39.1 million tons. It is significantly larger than the average rate over the past five seasons, which is 31.7 million tons (USDA, 2012). A total world production expected to be 60 million tones towards 2050 (FAO).

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Figure 1. World sunflower production – (*)Projection to 2050, USDA

The four largest SF producers (Russia, Ukraine, European Union and Argentina) account for 70% of global volume, with an exponential growth of production in the last ten years in the Black Sea region, with increased acreage and higher yields. Farmers were improving agronomy and were using hybrid seeds, but most of the increase in production was attributed to an increase in sown area.

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Figure 2. Dynamics of sunflower production in Russia in 1997-2011, mln. tons (Rosstat)

In Russia SF area 2011 was 7.2 million ha; total production reached record-breaking 9.6 million tons. In 2012 acreage was equal to 6.5 million ha (incl. 110 thousand ha high oleic SF), production is expected about 8.0 million tones. Dynamics of SF production in the domestic market in 1997-2011 is shown at Figure 2. Yields in Russia have remained stagnant for the past 5 years – 1.2-1.4 t/ha.

The largest areas under SF in 2012 were in the Volga Federal District – 2.5 million ha (38% of total SF area); South – 1.7 million ha (27% of total SF area), including 473 thousand ha in the Krasnodar region; Central Federal District – 1.3 million ha (20% of total SF area). Krasnodar SF acreage remains stable for the last five years – 450-550 thousand ha; production in 2011 reached 1 million tons (Figure 3). SF acreage and production will continue to grow as SF is highly profitable crop for Russian growers.

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Figure 3. Sunflower crop in the Krasnodar Territory in 2000-2011, thousand tons (Rosstat)

SF is the world’s fourth-biggest oilseed crop after soybeans, rapeseed and cotton seed, accounting for about 9% of global oilseed output last year. Vegetable oil dominates the Russian oilseed crushing industry. SF has traditionally been a leader among oil-bearing crops: 95% of SF crushes into oil. Russian SF oil production increased from 1.2 million tons in 2001 to 3.6 million tons in 2011/12 MY.

The demand in such industries as confectionary, mayonnaise, margarine, soap, pharmaceuticals, food ingredients, for SF is increasing. The Russian poultry, pig and dairy industries continue to grow, leading to increased demand for protein feeds. SF seed meal production 2012/13 MY is forecasted at 2.3 MMT (40% of total meal supply in Russia) and the share of meal and cake is still increasing.

Global SF market is the export oriented – Russia is one of the key world SF exporters. Russia accounts for 15-18% of the global SF oil export, i.e. it ranks the third in the world. SF oil is the main export product because of export duties. The total volume of Russian SF seeds export 2011/12 MY is 300 th tons, SF oil – 1,4 million tons, sunflowerseed meal – 600 th tones.

Producers and exporters of sunflowerseed will benefit from a gradual elimination of the country’s export tariffs due to WTO accession agreement which obligates Russia to incrementally reduce export tariffs on sunflowerseed from the current 20% (but not less than EUR 35/t) to 6.5% (but not less than EUR 9.75/t) in four years.