What a difference a year makes as reduced acreage and yields have led to little harvest pressure this year. Nearby prices are $2.85-$3.50 per cwt. higher this year versus last year at this time. A year ago, harvest pressure and heavy producer selling caused prices to crash and nearby sunflower prices were trading in range of $14.25-$14.60 at the crush plants. It is very possible that the market low has already been established and prices will remain relatively firm for the foreseeable future. Sunflower prices at the crush plants ended the week mixed at down 5 cents to unchanged. In the first month of the 2017-18 marketing years, exports of sunflower oil are off to a strong start. Sunflower oil exports are up from 2,243 metric tons (MT) in October 2016 to 3,168 MT in October of 2017. Canada remains the top importer of U.S. sunflower oil; in the first month of this marketing year, Canada imported 1,995 MT of sunflower oil. That’s up from 1,640 MT during the same time period a year ago. Exports of confection sunflower, both in-shell and kernel, are up as well. In October 2017, 4,776 MT of in-shell sunflower was exported; that’s up from 3,918 MT during the same time period last year. Mexico and Spain are the top importers of in-shell sunflower. Exports of kernel are up from 819 MT during October 2016 to 1,069 MT in October 2017. Canada and Mexico are the leaders in kernel imports: Canada imported 384 MT in October 2017 and Mexico 210 MT.
2018 new crop prices are starting to roll out as well. The Cargill crush plant is offering NuSun cash at $18.00 per cwt. and Act of God (AOG) contracts at $17.00. High Oleic contracts are being offered as well with cash at $18.25 and AOG at $17.25. ADM Enderlin is offering $18.15 cash contracts for NuSun and High Oleic. Something else to consider is the oil premiums that crush plants pay on sunflower. Sunflower is the only oilseed that pays premiums for oil content above 40%. Considering oil premiums that are offered at the crush plants on oil content above 40% at a rate of 2% price premium for each 1% of oil above 40%; this pushes a contract with 45% oil content gross return 10% higher per cwt. An $18 contract would be $19.80 and $18.25 goes over $20.00.