ANKARA, TURKEY — Buoyed by strengthening demand for oilseeds, Turkey is expected to increase sunflowerseed imports in 2018-19, according to an Oct. 1 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA forecasts Turkish sunflowerseed imports in 2018-19 at 690,000 tonnes, up 19% from the previous year.

The country’s sunflowerseed meal and oil demand has been on the uptick in recent years. Sunflowerseed meal consumption increased about 14% in 2017-18, reaching 2.1 million tonnes due to an increase in feed production. However, the USDA sees consumption slowing to growth of 7% in 2018-19 due to the country’s economic downturn, which has affected the livestock and poultry industries.

The USDA projects a 6% increase in 2018-19 sunflower seed meal production over the previous year, although that is less than the 20% increase seen from 2016-17 to 2017-18.

Sunflowerseed oil production is forecast to increase to 940,000 tonnes after a reduction in sunflowerseed tariffs from 27% to 13% to support local crushing, the USDA said.

“This action was taken in order to lower the cost of Turkey’s most popular cooking oil to help reduce food inflation rates,” the USDA said.

Sunflowerseed oil, which is the most consumed oil and most popular cooking oil in Turkey, is forecast to increase by 3% in 2018-19 to 960,000 tonnes