Oilseeds market outlook
The latest Oilseeds Agri-Outlook takes stock of the current situation and looks forward to what we might expect in the coming months, for supply availability, trade and demand. The volumes below are estimates at the time of writing.
Rapeseed prices have been on a downwards drift since the start of this marketing year (2022/23). However, prior to this, in the second half of the last marketing year prices reached highs that have never been seen before.
The UK oilseed rape (OSR) area has been increasing off the back of these high prices, as intentions would have been made when the market was peaking. In the results of the Early Bird Survey for planting intentions, the planted area for 2023 is estimated at 416Kha, the highest area since 2019. With an increase in every single region year-on-year apart from Wales and Northern Ireland.
In regions such as the North West, Yorkshire and Humber and the West Midlands, where Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle (CSFB) is not as prevalent, we are noting planted areas are only just behind 2019 levels. In Scotland their area has been on the increase since 2020; the harvest 2023 area even surpasses 2019 levels by 36% to be estimated at 43Kha.
The production scenarios in the graph above, use the planting intentions for 2023 and the regional Defra five-year minimum, average and maximum yields, withstanding any crop loss from November 2022 until harvest. This would put our domestic rapeseed production for 2023 at 1.16Mt – 1.58Mt, with an average production estimated at 1.39Mt.
In the North of England OSR is generally looking very well, with soil moisture better than the South, farmers were able to drill earlier. Crops are advancing and the earlier drilling has meant that the CSFB migration has been missed. In the South of England, generally OSR crops are looking well despite the cold snap, about 70-80% of what was established in the autumn is going to be carried through and crops are starting to show signs of new growth, with minimal disease reported.
From July to November 2022, the UK imported 406.2Kt of rapeseed, down 29% from the same point last year, due to a larger domestic crop. Over 70% of that has been from EU origin, this is due to the seasonality of harvest and supplies coming online.
It’s expected that domestic requirement for rapeseed will continue to be strong for the second half of this marketing year due to strong crushing demand. However, it’s expected that rapeseed imports will be slightly below 2020/21 and 2021/22 levels to reflect the production increase on the year.
As for origin, it’s coming to the time of year when vessels are starting to leave Australia and head towards Europe, to plug the second half of the seasons demand. It’s expected that UK imports will be made up of a larger proportion of Australian or Uruguayan rapeseed. However, light supplies may still trickle in from Europe.
Demand for rapeseed is expected to remain strong for the rest of this marketing year, both on the continent and domestically from abundant availability and good industrial margins.
Crushing demand domestically is expected to be strong for this marketing year with the UK estimated to crush near 2Mt of rapeseed, with gas prices reducing recently helping to sustain margins.
What could the outlook mean for UK prices?
Forward looking though, as we head towards harvest, the balance in Europe will become heavier in the 2023/24 marketing year, as larger production is expected for harvest 2023. If a larger crop comes to market, we could see prices coming down as we head into the 2023/24 marketing year.
This bearishness could be reinforced by a potential rapeseed oil surplus in the EU and indeed the world (with production growing faster than consumption). Demand from China over the next few months could change sentiment. Currently, Chinese rapeseed oil stocks are at a historical low compared to other vegetable oils. If demand remains lacklustre this could add to the further bearish outlook.
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