Rapeseed needs the biodiesel market

Vogel: Dumping imports are jeopardising European rapeseed cultivation

Berlin, 16th April 2018 – The Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants e. V. (UFOP) views the prospects of European rapeseed cultivation as being acutely jeopardised. “The dumping imports from Argentina and Indonesia are becoming a question of survival for European rapeseed producers”, said the Chairman of UFOP, Wolfgang Vogel. The shutdowns and production cutbacks carried out by European biodiesel producers will continue to increase the pressure on the volume and pricing on the market for rapeseed oil and rapeseed.
The UFOP Chairman stressed that the oil percentage of more than 40 % in rapeseed is the most important factor for producer pricing, and recently costs EUR 640 per tonne, which is around EUR 100 per tonne below the previous year's levels. With an average of 6 million tonnes from a total of around 12 million tonnes, rapeseed oil is the most important raw material in the European biodiesel industry. This roughly corresponds to an area of 4 million hectares of a total of around 6.5 million hectares for rapeseed cultivation within the EU's 28 member countries. The decline in the demand for the biodiesel industry is due to the use of oil mills in agricultural trading and ultimately among producers, stressed UFOP’s Chairman.

Vogel considers current political actions as being entirely contradictory. The European Commission and European Parliament want to excessively reduce biofuel production from cultivated biomass as of 2021. A gap in the demand for European rapeseed could only then emerge if palm oil were prohibited in accordance with the EU Parliament's decision. But the EU Commission opposes this decision. On the other hand, both institutions agree on the issue of the so-called indirect land use changes, except for the recognition of iLUC factors. At the same time, a European protein plant strategy is being developed without granting special status to rapeseed as by far the most important European GM-free protein source.

Vogel strongly criticised the fact that the EU Commission as well as the member states are clearly incapable of acting quickly enough to prevent the expected dumping imports of an estimated 3 to 5 million tonnes from Argentina and Indonesia as a result of unfair trading practices. On the other hand, policies are not providing alternative distribution options. Even cereal cultivation has long since reached its absolute economic limit. Surpluses have determined the pricing on a global level. European agriculture cannot live off flower strips alone, stated Vogel.

Only with a more ambitious biofuel policy can markets be stabilised in terms of price efficiency and a measurable contribution can be made to decarbonising fuels and therefore to the transport sector. The dumping measures in Argentina and Indonesia must also be assessed with regard to their “sustainability” and their adverse effects, Vogel claimed. Biodiesel is regarded as a sensitive product throughout the entire production path, like all agricultural products. Dumping exports are creating losers not only in the destination country where goods are being delivered, but also in the agricultural community in the country of origin.