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LECITHIN NEWS - Q4 2021

After reaching the lowest prices ever by the end of 2020 for both soya and sunflower lecithin, last year has been marked by continuous increases, first in freight prices, the growth in demand, and several political decisions.  

MARKET RETROSPECTIVE

On one hand, sunflower seed crop during 2020, in the Black Sea region, decreased approximately a 20%, compared to an average year, reaching 14,1 million t in Ukraine and 13,27 million t in Russia. On the other hand, the Soyabean crops in India were up to 10,45 million t. Despite these figures, prices of both IP soy and sunflower lecithin reached their historical lowest levels in December 2020 – January 2021 because of decreased demand due to COVID lockdown and new players entering the marketplace.  

In February 2021, the sunflower lecithin price starts its current trend. Following this pattern, non-GMO IP soy lecithin started its increase in May. 

During 2021 the oceanic freight prices have risen dramatically, playing a key role in market dynamics with acute lack of vessels & containers. In addition to the soaring price of fuel, the shortage of vessel crews for COVID- 19 incidence has resulted in skyrocketing prices and shipment delays. Sea transportation has then put severe pressure on international trade. 

FORECAST 2022

Current Situation for IP soy lecithin iIndia: 

The soybean crop in 2021 raised to 11,9 milliot which stands for a 18increase compared to 2020. Nevertheless, farmers are stocking beans to keep high prices of soy complex. The domestic soy meal prices skyrocketed in 2021 affecting greatly to the Indian poultry sector. Subsequently, soybean processing is exceptionally low with reduced crushing activity and so an acute drop of lecithin. 

Table 1: Indian soybean crop production evolution. Source USDA December 9, 2021

Currently, crude lecithin is in high demand. Therefore, securing raw materials is a continuous fight for every available load, which is pushing prices steadily up. 

Our prediction is that this trend will be kept, at least, until new crop in September / October. 

Current Situation for sunflower in the Black Sea: 

Russian sunflower seed crop in 2021 recorded a 15,5 million t that is 23increase versus 2020 that was a particularly bad crop due to weather conditions. 

Russia sunflower lecithin crop production

Table 2: Russian sunflower crop production evolution. Source USDA December 9, 2021

Ukrainian sunflower seeds crop in 2021 also recorded an increase of 18compared to 2020 with a total output of 17,5 million t 

Sunflower seeds crop 2021 UA

Table 3: Ukrainian sunflower crop production evolution. Source USDA December 9, 2021

Despite the good outputseed crushing in the Black Sea region has plummeted since the harvest is done, following export taxes applied by Russian government for vegetable oils to protect domestic prices. Extra tax burden does not allow local crushers to be competitive in sunflower oil export markets. Due to the shortage of rapeseed oil because of bad crops in Canada and EU, the milling activity has diverted to the momentarily more profitable rapeseed that is in big demand.   

Price projection

Prices in Europe for both IP soy and sunflower lecithin are expected to rise at maximum historical highs. In our views, market will remain bullish in H1, and probably H2 2022 until Brazilian (April-May) and Indian (October) crops are available.  

Key factors to affect price in H2 2022 will be the Brazilian crop, oceanic freights and sunflower in the Black Sea. 

If sea freight rates are still in the current elevated level during 2022 and sunflower seed crushing stays at the normal rate, on H2 2022 we foresee the following scenarios:   

Option 1: Good Brazilian crop / high sea freight rates. 

This will have a positive impact on GM lecithin which EXW price will drop, but still quite high CFR price. 

Non-GMO IP lecithin would benefit from the price downtrend, but impact will be reduced as non-GMO crop in Brazil is limited. 

In this scenario H2 2022 prices for both sunflower and non-GMO IP soyabean lecithin may decline. 

Option 2: Poor Brazilian crop / high sea freight rates. 

Prices will remain extremely high for Indian IP non-GMO soybean with maximum historical level for Q2/Q3 CFR shipments to European Ports. 

In this case, supply pressure on sunflower lecithin as an alternative to soy, will increase, even if crushing activity comes back to normal level. Prices for sunflower will then moderately decrease in Europe. 

For a better understanding of the lecithin market evolution, have a look over our previous edition of the Lecithin News ( Lecithin News Q3 – 2021)

Lasenor is actively present in the main sourcing areas for NON GMO lecithin. We will offer regular feedback on its development as a diagnosing tool.

Non GMO Soya – Identity Preserved

Indian Soy Crop 2021 estimated production figures

Highlights of this issue : · Monsoon season is still in full swing, with late showers. Beans humidity is a factor to be carefully monitored as this may bring quality issues (OTA levels).

Import figures show a fast-growing demand in India, strongly supported by a healthy local Feed industry. 

Increasing sea freight from South America to India combined with restricted lecithin availability in Brazil have led to bullying price levels. 

As a consequence, many Indian companies have been forced to accept paying prices similar to European market to get the material they need. 

Indian Soyabean prices have reached a record price of EUR 1200/Mt this year 2021, (and we now see) farmers seem reluctant to sell at a lower price level despite oil complex slight decrease overseas. 

From the demand point of view, we have been seeing a kind of panic in Europe and South America, due to scarce Brazilian production of Non GMO IP material:

Many customers found themselves short, with open positions and default from their usual suppliers. 

This puts additional pressure on Indian supply, and we expect prices remaining high until the new crop in South America. 

Last but not least, sea freight from India to Europe/Americas has sky rocketed in the past five months, which makes many sellers reluctant to make long term agreements. 

Facing such an uncertain scenario, Non GMO IP Russian material is now strongly considered as a back-up option.

Sunflower Lecithin

– Latest harvest figures in the Black Sea show that crop may turn potential record crop in Ukraine (larger than
previously assumed), but on the other hand Russian crop may turn a lower than expected.

In the worst-case scenario Russian production may turn out below 15 million Tons in 2021.

– Abundant production is expected in several EU countries.

– However, the transition to the new crop is being extremely difficult for various factors:

  • The season started later than expected due to weather conditions 
  • Many deliveries are pending due to the shortage 
  • Many farmers keep stock, being reserved sellers 
  • Russian taxation on exports is reducing processing of sunflower seeds 
  • Demand is healthy in EU 27, with biodiesel production switching from rapeseed to sunflower. 

– As a result, demand of raw materials remains firm and the expected price decline on sunflower lecithin on the high season has not materialized. 

– From a more global point of view, the Non GMO production deficit in South America, combined with sea freight crisis, has a strong impact on sunflower lecithin market segment. 

India will not be able to absorb 100% additional demand coming from usual Brazilian customers. We strongly believe that end users will continue with the switch from IP soy to sunflower in order to guarantee the Non GMO status.

In our views, both Non GMO soya lecithin and sunflower lecithin prices will remain at high price level, well above EUR 2,00/kg EXW, with additional potential increases later in the year if demand remains strong. 

Next crop in South America will have to be carefully followed, as there is a high risk that La Niña weather conditions would result in rainfall deficit and bad crop. 

All these factors are at play in a market where we continue seeing a solid demand for lecithin as a “natural” emulsifier

Lasenor is actively present in the main sourcing areas for NON GMO lecithin. We will offer regular feedback on its development as a diagnosing tool.

Non GMO Soya – Identity Preserved

2021 in Brazil

Soybean Balance (Mn T) January / December

 

Soya bean Crop 2021 in Brazil shows very good figures, but only 47,24 MnT of the crop is expected to be processed in local crushing plants.

It is roughly estimated that 98% of the total soybean output is now genetically modified, thus our projected volume of 945 000 T of Non GMO soybeans to be crushed, which yield approximately 5.250 T of soyabean lecithin.

It is also worth underlining that local crushers are reported to experience difficulties to maintain Hard IP certification system, leading to lower production volumes and discontinuation of IP certification projects.

 

Having a look at historical data for Brazilian crops we have the following scenario:

Source: CONAB, September 2020.

This graph clearly shows the decline of the Non GMO soybean crop in Brazil over the past 4 years. With regards to lecithin production the historical data is as follows:

 

Explanation for this trend:

In order to overcome the increasing risk of cross contamination, farmers and crushers have opted to concentrate in the value added Non GMO soy complex thus targeting exports to Europe with a view to capitalize on a premium price for Non GM Soy derivatives.

However, if there is no financial compensation/premium for Non GM material, same producers will shift its focus to GM soy products.

Unfortunately, the prices in Europe were not attractive enough to support Brazilian farmers efforts for certified Non GMO products. As a result, Non GMO soy cultivation has

Sunflower Lecithin

As anticipated in our Q1 2021 ́s issue, sunflower lecithin is facing an acute shortfall since end of March. There is virtually zero availability for spot business and contracts on Q3 2021 as a result of the high demand.

Price range at present has doubled compared to 6 months ago.

This situation will last at least until new sunflower crop becomes available in October, and market will need time to adjust to the existing supply shock.

 

plummeted to its lowest historical level and prevalence of GM soy varieties in Brazil is almost 100% this season.

Due to the tight supply, Indian Lecithin is in great demand even for South and Northern America users, that in the past imported significant amounts of Brazilian origin. Some important deals with multinational companies, have been recently closed for H2 2021 supply, which indicates a real shortage in Brazil.

On the back of the high demand prices are shooting up in India.

We do not expect better supply conditions before the end of 2021, and we believe that bullish uptrend in price will remain for the period.

In our views, substantial volumes of GMO Free Lecithin will be needed to compensate for the lack of Brazilian Non GMO product, therefore customers will be seeking for replacement with sunflower or Indian Soy.

Ukraine and Russia, the major sunflower producing countries have already started its sowing season.

 

The 2021 planting campaign started a few weeks later than usual due to cold weather and abundant rainfalls in the region. Ukrainian farmers have now almost completed 2021 spring grain campaign.

Ukrainian ministry reports farmers having sowed 6,4 Million hectares sunflower which represents 6% increase in the planting area.

This would lead to a expected record harvest of 16,4 Mt whereas 2020 ́s crop reached 14.3 Mn T.

In Russia and according to official 2021 estimates, the area for sunflower cultivation has decreased by 2.5% in comparison with last year.

Sunflower sowing area is estimated in the region of 8,9 Million hectares and 2021 ́s Russian crop is projected to reach 14.5- 15MnTv/s14MnTlastyear.

Sowing campaign being almost completed, we have now entered into a weather market. Climate conditions will play a major role next harvest.

We will release next Lecithin News issue by the end of September with the most recent insight of the situation and figures for sunflower crop and crush rates in 2021.

Monsoon in India will have started by then that will allow to get a more accurate outlook of the Non GMO lecithin market.

 

Lasenor is actively present in the main sourcing areas for NON GMO lecithin. We will offer regular feedback on its development as a diagnosing tool.

Non GMO Soya – Identity Preserved

Crop 2020 in India

Crops estimations – Lecithin production – Crude lecithin prices

Crop 2019 was hit by high percentage % of damaged seed due to weather adverse conditions, as a result the production of Lecithin dropped significantly.

The flow of seeds from the farmers to the crushers was steady between October and February 2019, therefore prices kept in a relative low range.

On the contrary, crop 2020 has had lower amount % of damaged seeds. Nevertheless the supply from farmers to crushers has been interrupted due to floods, leading to speculative movements and a price hike as a result.

Even more so, the edible oil complex in Chicago and Malaysia hit the highest levels in more than 5 years which prompted crushers to speculate with prices even more.

Due to this market situation, prices for Non GM IP Soya lecithin have gone up from 6% to 9% comparing 2020 versus 2021.

It is also worth to underline Ocratoxin (OTA) presence in foodstuffs originated in India:

Over the past 2-3 years we have been seeing its predominance rising in this country.

This may lead to a double market in a very near future:

  • High price for low OTA level lecithin suitable for sensitive applications such as Infant formulas, breakfast cereals, etc ….
  • Lower price for Lecithins with few restrictions for OTA.

Crop 2020 in Rusia

Russia has now become trusted option for non GMO IP Soya lecithin. 

Local legislation forbids use of GM derived foodstuffs in Russia.

Crops estimations for the past 2 years are as follows:

Sunflower

Crop 2020 in Rusia

 

EU – Sunflower seeds production

 

EU – Sunflower oil production

 

 

The sunflower production at 8,86 Million Tons is significantly below both last year’s crop and 5 years avarage dua to reduced output in Romania and Bulgaria.

In our views the development of the market dynamics has given contradictory signs during September/December 2020:

  • Crushers in Russia/Ukraine were cautious about low availability, and price offered for crude Sunflower Lecithin has been marked up from the early season due to availability concerns.
  • Western European crushers were aware of the scarcity of raw material in Russia/Ukraine, but the pressure to gain market share and have payback on latest investments done over the past 5 years prompted them to follow the price downtrend.

Organic Lecithin

Here we would like to recap our Lecithin News issue of Q1 2020 that expressed our concern about the reliability of product available in the marketplace:

1/ Crop productivity: 2 Metric Tonnes of seeds per Hectare. *Average yield for conventional sunflower; likely to be smaller for organic crops

Oil Extraction Yield considering only mechanical pressing is allowed: 32% in weight from seed.
Lecithin content: 7 Kg per Metric Ton of Crude Sunflower Oil* (*Internal Lasenor data).

As a consequence, prices were at their lowest at the end of last year. But, later on, when time has come to deliver to the customers, sellers were experiencing strong difficulties to find the raw material required to fulfil with their agreements.

Logically, prices went up and are still increasing significantly as a result of this lower availability.

We believe this trend will continue until the new harvest arrives in Europe.

According to our research the Potential World Production of Organic Sunflower Lecithin raises to approx. 800 Tons per annum worldwide.

2/ Data gathered from Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India and Chinese Agricultural University of Beijing shows that prevalence of Organic crops are non existing in India nor China.

Nevertheless, Chinese and Indian suppliers are offering unlimited (non limited) volumes of Organic Sunflower Lecithin, which is quite remarkable taking into consideration that no organic crops are planted in neither these two of these countries. More surprising is for India taking into account that it is monthly importing 1.000 Tons of conventional Sunflower Lecithin.

Trends

Non GMO products in the US market

In November 2017 & May 2018 editions we were stating

“The debate for the GM food present in the US shelves is ongoing on media and American public opinion. The vast proliferation of Supermarket chains focused on natural and organic products has increased demand of Non GMO and Allergen Free Lecithin to be used by food manufacturers. Initially, only premium brands required such Lecithin and other natural ingredients as well, but in recent years it has grown to a general domain. More strict controls are in place to guarantee absence of GM ingredients in foodstuffs.”

“Deadline of July’18 for the USDA to pronounce on a federal position in the United States regarding labeling of GMO, as well with the fact that public awareness in the matter is a hot topic, it has triggered demand in the largest market in the world. Large supermarket chains are already showing NON-GMO product lines, and in some cases with NON-GMO global policies. 

 

Also, the uptrend for the cleaner label is boosting the substitution of synthetic emulsifiers for natural (with more natural emulsification) solutions such as functional specialty Lecithin, that can potentially replace synthetic emulsifiers in some bakery & confectionary applications.

Food producers are seeking alternatives to synthetic emulsifiers, and enzymatically modified Lecithin can, in some applications, play the same role with more label-friendly.”

This is now a reality: US companies have settled strong “well-being projects”, Non-GMO being a major challenge for the coming years

 

More and more companies are getting concerned by environmental matters, looking for close supply. This topic now forms part the key factors of the purchase decision for many of them.

 

  • Lasenor started many years ago with saving measures to reduce our energy consumption, but it has not been until 2018thatwehaveaclearmonitoringofourCO2 footprint for Scope.

 

  • Our main actions are concentrated in:

– Energy efficiency in our production.

– Take advantage of the high solar radiation that we have in our part of the World.

 

  • Lasenor main consumption is by far in Olesa de Montserrat, but the monitoring program and consequent planning will also be ready for all our 5 subsidiaries by end 2020.

Lasenor is making an ambitious internationalization expansion in order to be able to offer equivalent products in the different main economic regions in the World. This project allows us to be very close to the raw material sourcing and to our customers plants.