French Avril will expand its sunflower crushing capacity

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French oilseed group Avril said it planned to build additional sunflower seed crushing capacity to reduce its reliance on imports as the war in Ukraine reduced shipments of sunflower oil and meal from major suppliers of the European Union.

Russia and Ukraine together account for around 80% of world sunflower oil exports.

The decision to increase production was taken before tensions rose in the Black Sea region, but plans have been accelerated recently, Avril chief executive Jean-Philippe Puig said.

Created by French oilseeds and protein crops, Avril is France’s leading manufacturer of biodiesel and animal nutrition and a leader in edible oils and plant-based chemicals.

Sunflower crushing

The group aims to crush 1.1 million tonnes of sunflower per year within two years, compared to around 700,000 tonnes currently. By then, French farmers should have increased the area sown to yellow oilseeds by 30% by 2021 to 900,000 hectares.

“After that, France will not be far from balanced in sunflower oil,” Puig said.

Compared to corn, which is sown around the same time in the spring, sunflower seeds use less water and less fertilizer – the price of which exploded last year – and have lower drying costs, declared the president of Avril Arnaud Rousseau.

Climate change has also allowed the crop to expand further north, attracting more farmers, he added.

In the meantime, the group is confident in its ability to supply all its customers with sunflower-based edible oil since it sources its supplies entirely in France.

Annual performance

Avril announced a 155% rise in net profit in 2021 to 150 million euros ($163.3 million), helped by capital gains, and a 46% increase in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) at 356 million euros.

Group sales rose 19% to 6.9 billion euros last year, with around 90% of the rise due to higher raw material prices.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. For more A-Brands news, click here. Click subscribe to register ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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