Kazakh market of flaxseed: rise on wheels


For the last years Kazakhstan has significantly boosted the production of flaxseed, by increasing the planed area up to 1.1 mln ha, surpassing Canada and Russia. The high demand from the leading importing region – the EU – allows Kazakhstan to easily distribute the oilseed and to enlarge the export volumes every year. The results of the 2017/18 MY and the first performance of 2018/19 MY are covered in our article.

 For many years the leading crop in Kazakhstan was wheat. But the growth of competition on the global market of wheat led to the price decline that based on the growing expenditures and grain self-cost increase forced the farmers to search for the new ways of agribusiness development.  The strong demand of the modern global market on oilseeds that are highly profitable determined the course of further changes of the Kazakh crop production strategies.

The governmental program of the agribusiness development for 2017-2021, adopted on February of 2017, suggests the expansion of the planed area under oilseeds by 44%. Together with this, the government grants the subsidies for the mineral fertilizers and weed killers, and also for the premium seeds, adapted to the natural conditions of Kazakhstan that altogether will allow to increase the yield and quality of oilseeds. It should be noted the subsidies of the interest paid on loans and machines leasing for the agro-industrial sector, as in order to produce oilseeds the farms mainly have to re-equip the current machines or change them.


Flaxseed: production, distribution, processing



According to the forecast by Oil World in 2018/19 MY Kazakhstan will become the leading country not only in terms of the area planed under flaxseed, but also in terms of its production that could reach up to record 700 thsd tonnes. Moreover, the agency estimates the export potential of the country at the new maximum level at 540 thsd tonnes, that is second only to Russian flaxseed exports.

How many years did Kazakhstan need to become the leader in terms of flaxseed production? In 2018/19 MY the planted area under the oilseed according to the official data totaled 1.1 mln tonnes which is 19 times (!) higher compared to 2009/10 MY. Herewith, the production of flaxseed in the current season is estimated by APK-Inform analysts at 780 thsd tonnes which has increased 16 times for the last decade.

Why does the flaxseed production develop so dynamically in Kazakhstan? First of all, the oil flax has good acclimatization and is perfectly suitable for the cultivation in the dry land farming. Secondly, during the seedling and harvesting of the crop the agrarians use the same machines as for the grains that excludes the extra expenditures for the equipment. Thirdly, it is the high profitability of flaxseed production and attractive price for the oilseed.



Unlike sunflower seeds the tendency of growth of flaxseed production is based on the expansion of the planted area taking into account the stable yield, with the average level for the last 6 seasons totaling 8 ts/ha. In the current season we estimate the yield of flaxseed at 7.6 ts/ha which is 6% lower to the previous MY. The main factor that affected the flaxseed yields was the weather conditions during the first halve of October (rains followed by snow) that led to the harvest delays and could impact the quality of the oilseeds.

Almost all of the linseeds production (97% of the planted area and 98% of the total crop in 2017) was concentrated in the three northern regions of Kazakhstan. It should be noted that the main surplus of the planted areas in the current season was demonstrated by North Kazakhstan Region.



ТОP-3 regions of flaxseed production


Planted area, thsd ha

Area change y-o-y

Yield in 2017, ts/ga

Production in 2017, thsd tonnes



North Kazakhstan Region






Kostanay Region






Akmola Region







Flaxseed for Kazakhstan is the export-oriented crop and nearly 50% of the total supply is exported to the foreign markets. According to APK-Inform Agency estimations in 2018/19 MY the export of flaxseed from Kazakhstan can reach 530 thsd tonnes which is the maximum volume ever recorded. The considerable growth of the shipments is based on the expected increase of the flaxseed production in the current season.



Also, there is a growth of the domestic consumption of the oilseed, in particular of its processing into flaxseed oil. For the last 5 seasons the production of oil increased 47 (!) times. In 2017/18 MY, taking into account the estimation of APK-Inform Agency, the Kazakh companies manufactured 28.5 thsd tonnes of flaxseed oil in comparison with nearly 0.6 thsd tonnes in 2013/14 MY. In 2018/19 MY we expect the production of oil at 31.5 thsd tonnes (+10.5%).

In Kazakhstan the flaxseed processing according to our estimates is performed by such companies as: ”Maslo-Del”, “Tayinsha-May”, “Karczhau”, “Zharkol 007”,  “Bota-2015”. “Enbek-1”. According to the map of agricultural processing the volume of oilseed production to 2021 will increase 1.5 times owing to the additional loading and modernization of the current capacities, and also due to the construction of the new plants.





The growth of the flaxseed oil production is based on the demand from the main buyers of the product – China. In particular, in 2017/18 MY, the country exported almost 100% of the total shipments of flaxseed oil to China.

Flaxseed oil export geography

The TOP-3 leading global importers of flaxseed oil, according to Oil World data, are the EU, China and the USA. For the current moment the major part of the oilseed is exported to the EU countries. The share of Kazakhstan in the total import of the EU-28 in 2017/18 MY amounted to 34% (255 thsd tonnes). It is hoped that the expected record crop of flaxseed in 2018 will lead to the increase of the Kazakh oilseed in the total import of the main importer.


Speaking about the EU countries the main buyer of Kazakh oilseed is traditionally Belgium. The volumes of exports to this country in 2017/18 MY totaled 166.7 thsd tones (+34% year-on-year) and the share of the shipments to Belgium in the total export increased from 40% in 2016/17 MY to 46% in 2017/18 MY.

Also, there is a growth of the Kazakh oilseed export to Poland: in 2017/18 MY the volumes shipped totaled 58.2 thsd tonnes compared to 41.2 thsd tonnes last season.

At the same time, Afghanistan by the end of the season declined the import of flaxseed by 6% to 61.2 thsd tonnes. Also, we can note the declined of the export shipments to Germany, Turkey and Iran.



In general in 2018/19 MY we can expect the further positive dynamics of the Kazakh flaxseed market development but there are still some risks due to the quality of the oilseed. The growth of the oilseeds consumption in the EU and China, the strong potential of the oil processing plants in Kazakhstan and the volatility of the national currency exchange rate in short and long term perspective will support the prices for both flaxseed and its by-products.


Natalia Gavruk