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Russia imposes export quota on sunflower oil, bans seed shipments

The restrictions from the Ministry of Agriculture are expected to run to 31 August.

By Simon Harvey

Russia plans to restrict exports of sunflower oil and has imposed a ban on the shipment of sunflower seeds to relieve pressure on domestic prices.

A 1.5m-ton export quota will be introduced on sunflower oil from 15 April, while a ban on shipping seeds out of the country comes into effect today (1 April), according to an announcement by the Ministry of Agriculture reported by Russian news agency Interfax.

The war in Ukraine has driven up prices of sunflower oil, seeds and meal – a by-product from crushing seeds for oil. Russia and Ukraine are the world’s largest producers, accounting for 73% of the global supply of sunflower oil, according to the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC), a non-profit organisation based in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture has also imposed a 700,000-ton export quota on sunflower meal and that will run to 31 August, the same timeframe for seeds and sunflower oil, Interfax said.

“Against the backdrop of a sharp increase in world prices for sunflower oil and oilseeds, there is an increased demand for Russian products,” the news agency cited the ministry as saying based on protecting the domestic market and local processors.

President Vladimir Putin had reportedly proposed to the Ministry on 23 March to impose quotas on sunflower oil and meal.

“This set of measures will eliminate the possibility of shortages, as well as sharp increases in the cost of raw materials and socially important products in Russia,” the Ministry said, according to Reuters.

On 14 March, Russia also introduced temporary restrictions on the export of grain and sugar in an attempt to shore up supplies in its domestic market.

Meanwhile, rising prices of sunflower oil this week prompted UK frozen food retail chain Iceland to reveal it would revert to using palm oil, a decision managing director Richard Walker said was taken with “huge regret” because of the commodity’s links with deforestation.

Walker added it was “strictly a temporary move, and one that I would not countenance at all if I could see any viable alternative”.

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