84% of sunflower oil imports in 2021 came from Ukraine

In total, the Netherlands imported more than €2 billion in goods from Ukraine in 2021. No less than €1.8 billion (88%) was for agricultural products. For the Netherlands, crude sunflower oil and corn are the most important products from Ukraine. Last year, the value of imports of both products was also high, and together they accounted for 52.5% of total imports from Ukraine. Rapeseed and oilseed rape account for 17% of import value. The other agriculture category (19 percent) includes products such as chicken meat and soybeans.

With an import value of 1.8 billion euros, Ukraine was the tenth country of origin of agricultural products in 2021. The bulk of agricultural imports come from Germany, Belgium, France and Brazil . Russia is the 44th supplier of agricultural products.

Value of imports of goods from Ukraine, 2021
Crude sunflower oil 537.5
But 536.3
Rapeseed and rapeseed 349.5
Other agricultural products 386.1
Non-agricultural goods 237.9

The Netherlands, the EU’s largest importer of sunflower oil

In 2021, the Netherlands obtained €641 million worth of crude sunflower oil from other countries, of which €538 million (84%) came from Ukraine. This makes the Netherlands not only the largest importer of crude sunflower oil from the EU, but also the country that imports the most crude sunflower oil from Ukraine. Spain and Italy are the second and third largest EU sunflower oil importers in the EU. The Netherlands is also the largest importer of sunflower oil from Ukraine in terms of percentage (84%), followed by Malta (77% import share), Spain (69%) and France (66%).

Most of the Ukrainian crude sunflower oil imported by the Netherlands eventually ends up abroad, either directly in the form of re-export or indirectly in the form of export after further processing in the country. Only 15% stay in the Netherlands, mostly after undergoing further processing.

Sunflower oil is used for baking and frying, but is also used as an ingredient for cookies, mayonnaise, baby food and meat substitutes. It can be replaced by rapeseed oil, soybean oil or palm oil, for example, but these products are not always easily or cheaply available.

Top EU crude sunflower oil importers, 20211)
Netherlands 538 104
Spain 422 194
Italy 281 272
Germany 4 352
Belgium 0 209
France 110 56
Portugal 33 30
Source: CBS, Eurostat
1) If quasi-transit is included, Dutch imports were even higher (€685 million in total and €582 million from Ukraine, a share of 85%).

The Netherlands is also the EU’s largest importer of maize from Ukraine.

Corn imports in 2021 amounted to an even higher amount, namely 1.29 billion euros, of which 536 million came from Ukraine (a share of 42%). This makes the Netherlands the EU leader for importing maize from Ukraine. Spain is the largest maize importer among EU countries (with an import value of €1.86 billion), but sources more maize from other countries. Apart from the Netherlands and Spain, Italy is the only other EU country whose maize imports exceed €1 billion in 2021.

Regarding maize imports from Ukraine, only Spain was close to the Netherlands with an import value of 510 million euros last year. The Netherlands also sourced most of the maize from Ukraine in percentage terms. It is followed by Portugal (35% share), Belgium (32%) and Spain (27%).

A small part (8%) of maize imported from Ukraine is immediately exported to other countries. Most of it ends up abroad after being processed in the Netherlands (66%), while a smaller part stays in the Netherlands (26%). Corn is widely used as a raw material in livestock feed for chickens, pigs and cattle.

Main EU maize importers, 20211)
Spain 510 1349
Netherlands 536 755
Italy 179 1007
Germany 37 786
Belgium 154 325
Portugal 152 286
Source: CBS, Eurostat
1) If quasi-transit is included, Ukraine’s share is 40 percent of total Dutch maize imports.