Click pie chart for full world production and trade statistics
Sunflower's have one of the shortest growing seasons of the major cash crops of the world and are used to make oil, meat and confectionary products. More than 80% of the sunflower's value comes from the oil that is extracted when cold pressed using a hydrocarbon, such as hexane.
The long-established leaders of sunflower seed and sunflower by-product production are the Russian Federation and Argentina and, more recently, Ukraine, who have become the number one producer and exporter in the world. Together, these countries produce over half of the sunflower seed to the world.
Sunflower seed crushing business is a low margin, high volume business. Sunflower oil must compete with other vegetable oils in terms of price and quality. The variable cost price ranges between USD 550-800 per ton and depends for 90% on the price of the raw material. A gross margin of 15% of the ex-factory price is normal. The fixed cost for a factory with an oil output of 50,000 tons (20 ton raw material per hour) is about USD 2 million per year. With 15% gross margin, the break-even volume lays at 30% capacity utilization.
Sufficient supply of raw material is the key to success (see Cigar Box 1 in Cost Price & Profitability). An alternative to crushing sunflower seed is to import crude oil from a low cost country (Ukraine, Russia) and refine it locally. Turkey is very successful in this respect. It imports over 300,000 ton crude oil from Russia and Ukraine, and exports over 100,000 refined oil to neighboring Iraq, Syria and Israel.- For full sunflower seed production and trade stats in the EastAgri region please click here
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