Oilseed production in the European Union (EU) is forecast to rise only slightly in 2022/23 despite an increase in planting area, according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The Oilseeds and Products Annual published on 21 April by the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) forecasts that despite an increase in planting area, oilseed production in the period would be restricted to a small increase due to lower average yields compared to the previous year.

EU oilseed production – a figure which included cottonseed – in 2022/23 was estimated at 31,073 tonnes, compared to 30,951 tonnes the previous year.

As with other sectors, the report said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had significantly impacted the oilseeds market. In addition, high input prices and the scarcity of input materials - such as energy, fertilisers and pesticides - had put a lot of pressure on the market.

“Driven by the deficit… commodity prices continue to increase from an already high level. The outlook for marketing year 2022/23 is highly uncertain and depends to a great extent upon developments in Ukraine,” the report said.

Total EU oilseeds area in the current marketing year is forecast to increase by almost 5%, according to the report, with the rise mainly a result of higher rapeseed and soyabean area, and, to some extent, sunflower area.

“The major reasons for the growing oilseeds area are high, attractive commodity prices, and to some extent (with sunflower), the uncertainty of the Black Sea market due to the Ukraine crisis,” the report said.

“After a decline and stagnation of rapeseed area, this is the first increase in rapeseed plantings in years.”

However, despite increased planting area, oilseed production is forecast to rise less than half a percentage point due to lower average yields, according to the GAIN report.

“This is mainly true for sunflower, which will not reach the high yields of the previous year. High prices and scarcity of input materials like energy, fertilisers and pesticides will also negatively impact yields in the upcoming season,” the report said.

On average, planting and growing conditions have been favourable to date, according to the report.

Following increased crushing, EU oilseeds meal production was forecast to increase about slightly over 1% in the current marketing year, the report said, with a decrease in overall feed consumption also forecast due to a declining livestock sector.

Feed use of oilseed meals is forecast to be down 2.5% compared to the previous marketing year, due to the tight situation in the sunflower market, with less sunflower meal expected to be used in feed.

For oils, total EU domestic production was forecast to be stable compared to the previous year, with increasing rapeseed, soyabean and sunflower oil production offset by lower olive oil production. The tight market in the vegetable oil sector and growing demand for food consumption due to a growing population was projected to result in lower biofuels use, the report said.

Meanwhile, EU imports of soyabeans are expected to increase due to the uncertainty over Ukrainian sunflowerseed supplies, and, while rapeseed growing conditions have been good, rapeseed crops could be impacted by the limited access of fertilisers.

“The risk of droughts in Brazil, the EU main soyabean supplier, is not as strong as previously forecast. However, Brazil relies on Russia and Belarus for input imports and is heavily dependent on imports for all chemical products,” the report said.

Despite the availability of Brazilian soyabeans, the EU was expected to slow down exports and rely on intra-EU imports from producing countries such as Romania, whose exports to Russia should decrease due to the crisis.