In recent years Russia has been increasing production and exports of flax seeds and flax oil. In 2022 the physical volume of oilseed flax supplies increased by 46% and export revenues by 33%. Flax oil shipments demonstrated growth by 31% and 36%, respectively.
The largest buyer of oilseed flax is China, which accounted for more than half of Russia’s shipments last year. Over the year, the value volume of exports to China increased by 49%. In addition, Turkey increased its purchases by 44%. Traditional buyers of Russian flax – Belgium, Latvia and Poland – also retained their positions among the leading importers.
China is also the leader among the buyers of Russian flax oil with a share of about 42%. According to the results of 2022 more than 15 thousand tons of the product were shipped to China that is by 3,7% more than in 2021 and in money terms the export increased by 15%. Turkey significantly increased its imports – +64% and +91% respectively. Besides China and Turkey the top 5 importers of Russian linseed oil include Lithuania, Belgium and Norway. On the whole during the last year flax oil from Russia was supplied to 42 countries and oil flax – to 40 countries.
RUSAN” (Altai Krai) increased its supplies of flax seeds to China by multiples in 2022. “The volume of shipments in 2021 was 130 tons, and in 2022 – 4.6 thousand tons. The export potential of flax seeds is quite large, and I think it will increase. According to the data we have, China is ready to buy even more volumes that are offered from Russia today. If earlier Chinese importers bought flax in Canada, now they are reorienting to Russia, and the cancellation of anti-cotton restrictions has helped to increase consumption,” Alexey Penkov, the company’s director, told Agroexport.
The volume of domestic oilseed flax production has been growing steadily in recent years, including a 63% increase in the gross harvest in 2022, explains Mikhail Maltsev, executive director of the Oil and Fats Union of Russia. “Since we mainly export oilseed flax as a raw material, exports increased with the increase in the harvest. However, since 2018 we started exporting flax oil, shipping abroad about 30 thousand tons per year. With the growth of flax growing, oil production also increased: in 2022 it was already exported 36 thousand tons,” Maltsev emphasized to Agroexport.
Flax seeds and flax oil produced from them are in demand worldwide, especially among adherents of healthy lifestyle due to their useful properties and high content of Omega-3. Flax products are also in demand in the non-food manufacturing sector, including the paint, pharmaceutical, soap, electrical, leather and other industries.
According to FAO, in 2021, Russia overtook Kazakhstan to become the world’s number one producer of oilseed flax. The global harvest was about 3.3 million tons, of which almost 39% came from Russia. According to Rosstat, in 2021 our country produced 1.3 million tons of flax in weight after processing, and compared to 2011, the harvest has increased in 3 times.
Flaxseed oil in the world in 2021 was produced 793 thousand tons, and Russia was in 6th place among the producing countries. However, from 2017 to 2021, domestic production of this type of oil increased 2.9 times, from 12.2 thousand tons to 35.5 thousand tons.
According to the ITC Trade Map, in 2021, global exports of oilseed flax were $1.3 billion, flax oil $336 million, and linseed oil $336 million. The largest global exporters of flax seeds were Russia, Canada and Kazakhstan, while importers were Belgium, China and Germany. The world’s largest exporters of flax oil were Belgium, Russia and Germany, while importers were China, Germany and the Netherlands.
Thus, Russia ranks 1st among oilseed flax exporters, seriously ahead of Canada and Kazakhstan, but is still 2nd in raw flax oil exports and 10th in other flax oil, including technical flax oil. “It should be the other way around. The volumes of flax oil production for the last two seasons has grown almost twice as much as the export of raw materials, which shows a huge reserve of raw materials for processors,” Maltsev points out.
The Union forecasts that in 2023 the growth of oilseed flax production will continue and will amount to 15% due to expansion of areas under crops as well as improvement of cultivation technologies. “We also expect the increase of processing volumes by 1,5 times, i.e. the production of flax oil at the level of more than 50 thousand tons. Therefore, we expect to increase the volume of oil exports several times, reducing the export of flax as raw material abroad”, – Maltsev forecasts.