UKRAINIAN SUN OIL AS A PREMIUM PRODUCT IN THE WORLD MARKET. IN SEARCH OF A NATIONAL BRAND
Creation of a national brand for Ukrainian sunoil was one of the central issues discussed at the V International Conference "Black Sea Oil Trade-2017" – a leading event of the Fat&Oil Industry of Ukraine and Black Sea countries, held in Kyiv on September 19, 2017. Organizer – consulting agency UkrAgroConsult, General Sponsor - ING Bank. ‘Black Sea Oil Trade’ Conference annually brings together key players of the global agricultural market at the start of the oilseed season. Over 200 delegates from 30 countries of the world registered to attend the event.
Opening the conference, Pieternel Boogaard, Head Food & Agri Europe, ING Bank NV (the Netherlands) noted that Ukraine has been showing substantial progress in the fat-and-oil sector over the recent years. "Back a decade ago, no one could suppose that Ukraine would be on a par with, say, Argentina, which was the number one in the fat-and-oil economy then, and come close to a sunseed volume of 20 MMT a year," she said.
Volodymyr Pugachov, a representative of the Agrarian Policy and Food Ministry of Ukraine, also stressed that the oilseed sector’s indicators are "inspiring" and pointed out that Ukraine is now the leader of the global sunoil market.
NO BRAND – NO TREND
Almost all of the conference participants said that promotion of Ukrainian sunoil to international markets is extremely problematic without a national Ukrainian sunoil brand. The tone of the discussion was set by a speech by Sergey Feofilov, Director General, UkrAgroConsult "Further prospects of the global sunoil market can be hardly imagined without shaping a special ‘premium product’ segment," he emphasized.
According to the speaker’s statistics, over 180 MMT of vegoils were produced globally in the 2016/17 season. The speaker analyzed present-day situation in Ukraine’s fat-and-oil sector and noted that, despite current quite good performance (top position among the world’s sunoil exporters, sunseed margins at over 60% etc.), the industry is facing a number of problems, which can lead to substantial changes in the very near future.
Sergey Feofilov brought an example of sugar market, where Ukraine used to be on the top position. In 1990, the country was the world’s biggest producer of sugar and one of its 5largest exporters. However, due to competition with cheaper cane sugar, absence of state support and other factors, this position was almost entirely lost.
S.Feofilov is sure that the case of Ukrainian sugar market should be taken into account when analyzing Ukrainian sunoil’s prospects in foreign markets.
Firstly, sunoil pricing is influenced quite substantially by production of the cheapest vegoil, i.e. palm oil (its output will gain 20-25 MMT by 2025), while other vegoils’ prices tend towards the palm oil level. Secondly, Russia has been increasing sunoil production and exports over the recent years and successfully competes with Ukraine. So, the construction of a vegoil-handling terminal with an annual capacity of 1.5 MMT was started in Novorossiysk (plus operational handling facilities in Taman with an annual capacity of 1.2 MMT a year). Also, importantly is that Russian sunoil exports are on the rise since 2015 and will exceed 2 MMT in MY 2017/18. Russia steps up sunoil deliveries to China and India too.
The present-day Ukrainian fat-and-oil sector’s strategy, aimed at increasing production, crushing and exports, does not pay off under such conditions, neither does monopolization of trade channels, S. Feofilov stressed. The sugar story may repeat, the analyst noted. In opinion of S. Feofilov, the above-mentioned situation can be responded by creation of a national brand for Ukrainian sun oil as a premium food product and its promotion to the global market by 2025.
Artem Hammerschmidt, Senior Analyst of OilWorld, Germany, drew the audience’s attention to an interesting fact: global sunoil output has not changed over the last decade.
According to Hammerschmidt, sunoil currently accounts for 8% of the world’s vegoil production, which includes 17 vegetable oils and fats. This share is equal to that registered in the 1997/98 season.
When describing the sunseed production trends in the current 2017/18 season compared with 2016/17, A. Hammerschmidt pointed out that production increases are to be expected in Argentina (+0.5 MMT), Turkey (+0.2 MMT), China and Russia (+0.1 MMT each). Sunseed output in Ukraine and Canada are forecast to drop by 1.2 MMT and 0.4 MMT, respectively.
According to the analyst, the world market is now dominated by palm oil, which replaced soybean oil in the top position a decade ago.
Palm oil has come to the fore in the last ten years (31% of total vegoil production against 17% in the 1997/98 season). Simultaneously, soybean oil output has gained 2% and reached 25% of the world’s total (the second largest volume) against 23% a decade ago, when it was the leading vegoil.
When describing the global market of the 17 vegetable oils and fats, the speaker reported that the most powerful exporters include Indonesia, Malaysia, CIS countries, Argentina, Canada and Brazil. The top importers are South Asian countries (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan), the EU, China and the USA.
With regard to global production of the ten oilseeds, sunseed accounts for 9% of its total volume now (against 8% in the 1997/98 season) and is the world’s number three after soybeans (62% this season and 55% a decade ago) and rapeseed (11% and 12%, respectively).
A. Hammerschmidt added that India is expected to step up sunoil imports shortly due to a tax imposed on palm oil there.
"Sunoil is to be positioned as a healthy food. It is in demand in India," said G. Chandrashekhar, a global agribusiness and commodities markets specialist, India. According to his statistics, vegoil consumption in the region grows from 23.7 MMT in MY 2016/17 to 25.1 MMT in MY 2017/18, imports will expand from 4.4 to 4.5 MMT. He says producers in these countries will encourage growers to raise yields.
Vegoil production will increase in the 2017/18 season against 2016/17 as follows: from 38.8 MMT to 41.0 MMT in Indonesia (including palm oil output growth from 34 MMT to 36 MMT) and from 21.2 MMT to 23.5 MMT in Malaysia (including palm oil from 18.9 MMT to 21 MMT).
At the same time, according to the analyst, great opportunities are offered to vegoil importers in Africa, where growth of populations and economies leads to higher consumption of the product. So, North Africa is expected to import 1.8 MMT of soybeans with own production at 0.7 MMT. The use of palm oil is on the rise in Sub-Saharan Africa: 4.8 MMT of imports with 2.7 MMT of own production.
India imports some 15 MMT of vegoils.
At the discussion panel "Sunoil. National Brand as an Effective Trade Strategy", conference participants discussed prospects of creating and promoting a national sunoil brand as an effective trade strategy for Ukraine.
Julia Garkavenko, Oilseed Market Expert, UkrAgroConsult, noted that olive oil in the EU is regarded as a premium product, therefore its retail price is more than 2.5 times as high as that of sunoil: EUR 4.15/liter against EUR 1.48/liter, respectively. Still, the healthiness and useful properties of olive oil do not exceed those of sunoil by so many times. In many respects these products are identical or close to each other. Moreover, the content of some essential fatty acids and vitamin E is much higher in sunoil than in olive oil.
Also, the expert pointed out that refined sunoil (both bottled and bulk) accounts just for 7% of total sunoil exports from Ukraine.
Liliya Voytukh, deputy business director of Majola Trade House, drew the audience’s attention to difficulties that will arise in the course of establishing a national sunoil brand. In particular, they will include a long process of trade mark registration, certification difficulties in the importing countries etc.
Elena Derevyanko, Vice-President of the Ukrainian PR League, emphasized that creation of a national sunoil brand will last long, but it needs to be done.
Denis Krasnikov, Vice-President of USPP, stressed that creation of an internationally recognized national brand requires good will of Ukraine’s authorities to carry out a set of measures for attracting foreign buyers to the country.
Summing up the panel, Director General of UkrAgroConsult, Sergey Feofilov, expressed satisfaction that discussion had been held within understanding of the commercial competition laws, rather than within production capacity analysis.
SOYBEANS AND OTHERS. MARGIN, GROW!
China holds its position as the largest soybean consumer. South Asian countries increase consumption, too. This was reported by Warren Patterson, ING Bank commodities strategist (the Netherlands).
According to the speaker, if the world’s soybean consumption totals some 350 MMT in MY 2017/18, over 100 MMT out of this volume will be used in China. In view of insufficient own production, the country will step up imports, W. Patterson noted.
This trend stems from expanding consumption of meat and dairy products in China. The speaker pointed out that capita meat consumption in the country has already reached almost 60 kg a year against less than 40 kg in 2000. Milk production is also on the rise: its annual volume has grown from 7 to 35 MMT over the last 17 years. Under such conditions, importance of soybeans for Chinese animal sector can hardly be overestimated.
It should be noted, that substantial growth of soy flour and bean imports is observed in South Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam): procurements exceeded 25 MMT in 2017 against some 8 MMT in 2000. The reason is the same: these countries experience changes in the diet of population driven by their GDP growth, which will be within 4-6% until 2021.
Similar trends are observed in India, too. Growth of both population and GDP pushes up demand for animal proteins and consequently for soybeans. Consumption of food soybean oil in India also increases dramatically, presently equaling 18 kg per capita per annum against its global level of 25 kg.
W. Patterson also touched upon Ukraine and its place in global production of soybeans. According to him, their output will exceed 4.5 MMT in MY 2017/18, but exports will slightly decrease against MY 2016/17 (roughly 3 MMT).
In addition, the speaker emphasized that the most competitive in the world market are soybeans, grown in Argentina (production cost below USD 250/MT). The second position is held by Brazil and the third belongs to the USA.
Non-GMO soybean production may bring up to $200 Ml of additional profits to Ukraine, said Dmitry Motuzko, Commercial director of AdamPolSoja (Ukraine).
According to him, the food industry’s demand for non-GMO soybeans in the EU alone is 5 MMT a year. In addition, South-Eastern Asian countries also consume non-GMO soybeans.
D. Motuzko stressed that cultivation of non-GMO soybeans is a source of a substantial price premium. So, while FOB price for soybean meal equals $360/MT, non-GMO meal costs $430-450/MT. Prices for variety soybeans and organic soybeans stay within a range of $500-800/MT.
At the same time, the speaker pointed out that the world’s market of non-GMO soybeans is much smaller than that of usual soybeans. So, while this value for GMO-soybeans and meal approximates 100 MMT, the market volume of non-GMO products is 3-5 MMT and that of organic soybeans is at most 0.5 MMT. And non-GMO products are only purchased by the EU, occasionally by Japan and South-Eastern Asian countries. In addition, the speaker mentioned difficulties related to logistics of non-GMO soybeans.
It is important to use advantages of high-oleic sunoil when promoting it in the market as a premium product. This was discussed by Dmitry Neroda, Key Account Manager, Syngenta, Ukraine.
According to him, high-oleic sunoil contains no trans fats, has a longer shelf life, shows excellent stability without hydrogenation and is an all-purpose product for long frying (it can be used five times longer than usual oil), making sauces, dressings and pickles.
The speaker stressed that high-oleic sunoil exerts a beneficial influence on human health, reduces the risk of cancerous and cardiac diseases and contributes to the immune system.
D. Neroda added that high-oleic sunoil can be used both in its pure form and as blends with other vegoils (Isio-4 in France), fish oil (Cargill’s IngreVita in the USA), palm oil and olein.
Also, the speaker pointed out a downward trend in high-oleic sunflower plantings in 2016 and 2017 against 2015.
Sunseed by-products are an alternative source of feedstock for the energy sector. This subject was covered by Aleksey Danshin and Igor Syzko, the leaders of the "BIO-TPP sunflower husks, chips, straw" projects (KMZP, Ukraine).
According to them, the oil extraction plant can provide a TPP (thermal power plant) with fuels from biomass (sunflower husks and granules) throughout the year.
The speaker mentioned the following advantages of this biofuel: guaranteed purchase of the generated electrical power at a "green tariff" until January 01, 2030; a fixed selling price of the thermal energy at 90% of the gas tariff; energy self-sufficiency; predictable use of fuels throughout the year etc.
In addition, the speakers described the operational technology of the BIO TPP.
They reported that in 2016-17 their plant put into operation biofuel boilers with a combined capacity of some 90 MW.
Summing up the conference, Sergey Feofilov was laconic: the potential of the "National Brand of Ukrainian Sunoil" project is high. While a bottle of this product costs UAH 32 in the "Metro" supermarkets in Kyiv, its price in a similar supermarket in Berlin is as high as UAH 47 (in currency equivalent). The managers only have to come and earn this margin.
BLACK SEA OIL TRADE – 2017: UKRAINIAN VEGOIL INDUSTRY NEEDS A NATIONAL BRAND
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