Oilseed production in the European Union (EU) is forecast to increase by over 4% in the 2023/24 marketing year compared to the previous year, which was hit by drought, according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA’s forecast was based on average growing conditions, higher average yields, and increased area, the European Union Oilseeds and Products report said.

At the time of 2 May Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) report, significantly higher yields for sunflower and soyabeans were forecast, while rapeseed yields were expected to be slightly lower than in the previous marketing year.

To date, growing conditions had been favourable in most EU regions, the report said.

However, in some areas it was already too dry, and rain was needed, particularly in western parts of the EU.

“Yield potential will depend on future growing conditions, such as precipitation and temperature,” the report said.

Oilseed planted area in the 2023/24 marketing year was forecast to increase by less than 2%, with increased rapeseed and soyabean plantings making up most of the total, in addition to a small increase in sunflower planted area.

“High demand for oilseeds and oilseeds products and attractive commodity prices have fuelled the increase in oilseeds [planted] area,” the USDA said.

Feed use of oilseed meals is forecast down, in line with declining livestock and dairy sectors, while biofuels and food use of vegetable oils are forecast to remain stable, according to the report.

EU total domestic vegetable oil production in the 2023/24 marketing year was forecast to increase by almost 4% compared to the previous marketing year.

“The increase is mainly driven by the recovery of olive oil production after extremely low production the previous year. Increased production is also forecast for soyabean and sunflower oil, whereas rapeseed oil production is projected to be down,” the USDA said.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is still having an impact on the EU and world oilseeds market, according to the report.

“The war is pressuring global food security due to the high level of exports of feed and grain products from these two countries. The European Union adopted several measures to enhance global food security and to mitigate the impact of the war on EU farmers given rising commodity and input prices,” the USDA said.