U.S. farmers ramp up sunflower planting as war in Ukraine disrupts the global cooking oil supply

U.S. farmers will likely plant double the expected acreage of sunflowers this season, as Ukraine’s agricultural production is disrupted and oil prices climb amid the Russian invasion. Ukraine is the world’s largest producer of sunflower oil, used in products such as potato chips and shampoo. While the oil’s exports have dropped, farmers from the Midwest to the Deep South have ramped up production to benefit from the “highest prices on record” at about $34 per 100 pounds for new-crop sunflowers, Bloomberg reports. The previous all-time high was in 2008 at $30.50 per hundred pounds. The Department of Agriculture estimated last week that farmers would likely plant 10 percent more acreage this season; the National Sunflower Association trade group doubled that projection. The war in Europe adds to a list of complicating factors that have caused the cost of U.S. cooking oil to rise in recent years; it’s tripled since 2020 due in part to unfavorable weather conditions affecting crops across the globe, Covid-19 supply chain disruptions, and a dip in palm oil production. —Safiya Charles

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