SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa’s oilseeds production is forecast to hit a record high of 2.4m tonnes with increased utilization of soybeans and sunflower seeds likely to affect oilseed meal imports that could drop by 14% to 480,000 tons.

This is particularly driven by increased soybean plantings, with post forecasts by USDA that a record area of 1.6 million hectares will be planted with oilseeds in South Africa later in 2018.

USDA postulates that corn producers will likely cut 10% of planted area and switch to oilseeds as a result of poor corn prizes attributed to large corn carry-over stock and sluggish exports.

Although the area planted with oilseed increased by 12% in 2017/2018, oilseed crop was estimated at 2.2 million tonnes, 4% lower than the previous year’s, affected by prolonged drought.

While soybean production is expected to increase due to 35% increase in planting area, sunflower seed is estimated to decrease on decrease in area planted and lower yields due to drought.

Since 1.3 million tonnes of soybeans are expected to be crushed locally, soybean meal imports will drop by 15% to 400,000 tons, with only 30% of the local consumption of oilseed meal being imported.

South Africa is expected to import 470,000 tons of soybean meal, 12% lower than the 532,000 tons imported in the previous year on higher production.

Both soybean oils and sunflower oil imports will to drop by 6% to 165,000 tons and 150,000 tons, respectively.

Peanut planted area will stay at its normal levels of around 55,000 hectares and production is expected to be at around 90,000 tons.

Projection in high estimates came after mid-summer drought in most of the oilseeds producing areas, followed by good rainfall, according to the Crop Estimate Committee (CEC).

High oilseed production is coupled with about 1.5 million tons of additional oilseed processing capacity, bringing South Africa’s current total oilseed processing capacity to an estimated 2.5 million tons per annum.

Sunflower seed is processed into oil and meal, included in broiler rations, in the dairy and beef industries by local animal feed manufacturers.

In 2016/17, SA imported small amounts of soybeans (28,000 tons) and sunflower seed (2,000 tons), mainly from Zambia and Malawi, but USDA estimates that while sunflower seed imports will continue at about 2,000 tons per annum, there will be no more soybean imports due to higher local production and the fact that imports are mainly directed to oil and protein meal.

Oilseed oil is estimated at a record of 505,000 tons to supplement 1.2 million tons of vegetable and oilseed oil consumed by South Africans annually.

Most of the oilseed oil consumed in South Africa is palm oil which is mainly imported from Indonesia and Malaysia.

South Africa imported about 930,000 tons of vegetable and oilseed oil in the 2016/17 including palm oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil, forming 80% of local consumption in the year.

Although oilseed imports will increase 2% to 945,000 tons on lower local oil production, SA will export oilseed oils to neighboring countries such as Zambia and Angola, having exported about 230,000 tons of oilseed oil in 2016/17.