Bulgaria has become the top European Union (EU) importer of sunflowerseeds from Ukraine with a 40% share of total EU imports and increased crushing in the 2022/23 marketing year, according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Although the oilseed planted area in Bulgaria increased by 8% in the period, total oilseed production remained at the same level as the previous year at 2.4M tonnes due to lower yields caused by heat and drought conditions, the 10 March Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) report said.

While sunflower production increased by 4% compared to the previous season, the rapeseed crop was 20% lower.

As of the end of February, Bulgarian exports of sunflower meal exceeded 400,000 tonnes and accounted for 66% of total EU exports. The country’s exports of sunflower oil reached 360,000 tonnes, representing a 47% share of total EU exports.

However, local farmers had expressed deep concerns that imported sunflowerseed was depressing local prices, the report said.

For the 2023/24 marketing year, the USDA forecast higher oilseed production in Bulgaria if weather conditions were favourable and depleted soil moisture reserves recovered.