• One vessel sailing to Portugal, two others headed for Europe
  • EU may import up to 10 times more from Argentina: Sunseedman

The European Union is buying more sunflower seeds from Argentina, the world’s fourth-largest producer, as a cut in export taxes and a weaker peso make imports cheaper.

Shipments into the EU may be up to 10 times bigger in the 2015-16 season ending in July compared to a year earlier, said Veysel Kaya, founder of brokerage and consultancy Sunseedman in Edirne, Turkey. A first vessel of Argentine sunseed has already sailed to Portugal and another two are scheduled, one heading to France and the other to the Netherlands, he said.

Argentina scrapped a tax on sunseed exports last year, helping boost shipments and pressuring prices in Europe and the Black Sea region, according to a report from Oil World. The depreciating peso also helped boost overseas sales of the crop, which is crushed and pressed to extract an oil commonly used in cooking, said Stefan Vogel, head of agricultural commodities research at Rabobank International in London.

More Shipments

"There has been a lot of business, most of the business has been to Europe," Thomas Mielke, executive director at Oil World, said by phone from Hamburg on Tuesday. "There will be more shipments in April and May of business that has already been done."

European imports of Argentine sunflower seeds may rise to 150,000 to 200,000 metric tons in 2015-16, up from about 20,000 tons a year earlier, Kaya of Sunseedman said by e-mail Tuesday.

The Golden Daisy vessel heading to Lisbon is carrying 15,500 tons, while the Jin Rui Feng ship will deliver supplies to the Netherlands and the Hong Fu ship to France, Kaya said, citing vessel line-up data.

Argentine sunseed prices are currently lower than European supplies, Kaya said. The peso depreciated 38 percent in the past year, the biggest decline in a basket of 24 emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

Shipments from the South American nation will help bridge a drop in the EU’s crop, which Oil World estimates will be 15 percent smaller at 7.65 million tons. Large quantities will probably start to arrive at European processing plants from mid-April, the researcher said in an e-mailed report.

"These are welcome quantities because of the reduced European sunflower seed crop and soft seed crop in general," Mielke said. "It’s a good development for the European crushers who find now a new source to buy sunflower seed from."

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