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India relies on Ukraine for sunflower oil imports, buyers may have to look elsewhere

Sunflowers growing in a field
REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
Sunflowers in the Kiev region of Ukraine.
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Ukraine supplies over half of the world’s crude sunflower and safflower oils. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine and rising cooking oil prices, countries that use those oils may start to look for alternatives. The two oils—referred to as sun oils—are vegetable oils derived from the seeds of sunflower and safflower plants. The Black Sea region including Russia exports 80% of the world’s crude sun oil. With such a high concentration of the supply at risk, the war in Ukraine may increase demand for alternatives, like palm and soybean oils.

India’s demand for sunflower oil

India imports 76% of its sun oils from Ukraine, accounting for about a third of Ukraine’s exported supply.

Sunflower oil imports in India

The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, a vegetable oil industry group, said its members are considering sourcing cooking oil and oil seeds from other countries, particularly for southern India where sunflower oil is used the most. According to the group, alternatives include palm oil from Indonesia, canola oil from UAE, and sunflower oil from Russia. Russia is currently India’s second biggest sun oil supplier. Russia may set an oil seed production record this year, after preliminary data show a huge crop of sunflower, soybean, rapeseed, and linseed.

Argentina supplies mostly soy oil to India. India already buys 54% of Argentina’s crude soy oil exports so farmers there have an opportunity. That could mean growing more soy or turning to sunflowers, if farmers are incentivized to grow it.

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