After a significant spike in 2018, U.S. stocks of once-refined sunflower oil in 2019 found a new, lower monthly comfort zone around 21.5 million pounds. For comparison, monthly refined oil stocks in 2016 averaged 38.9 million pounds, 48.7 million in 2017, and 57.9 million in 2018.
The lower volume of stocks coincided with higher monthly production of once-refined sunflower oil, which averaged 38.6 million pounds in 2019, up from 33.9 million in 2018 (when the industry was allowing stocks to decline) but also notably higher than production in 2016 and 2017, when monthly production averaged 36.6 and 34.3 million pounds, respectively.
The U.S. is a net importer of sunflower oil, with nearly all imported volumes coming from Ukraine, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Turkey. About two-thirds of sunflower oil imports are refined. In 2019, the U.S. imported nearly 68,000 MT of crude and refined sunflower oil, down about 5 percent from 2018—the decline was entirely in crude oil imports. In terms of value, imports of refined sunflower oil averaged 67 cents per pound in 2019, down from 69 cents in 2018. Q4 2019 pricing was just over 70 cents per pound on average.
In addition to apparent higher domestic consumption keeping the lid on ending stocks, sunflower oil exports have also been on the upswing, with total volume in 2019 hitting a record 57,200 MT, up 22 percent from 2018. Most U.S. refined sunflower oil exports are shipped to Canada: about 66 percent in 2019 and about 76 percent in 2018. In terms of value, U.S. exports of refined sunflower oil averaged 66 cents per pound in 2019, up from 62 cents in 2018.
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