The move is a further sign of the growing importance to multinational companies of Eastern Europeans sunflower seed market, as demand for healthier edible oils continues to drive growth. ADM said this week that it had successfully obtained the remaining shares in the Ilitchevskiy Maslo Extractionniy Zavod joint stock company (Imez) from Risoil, who had previously held an equal share in the venture. Through the buyout, ADM will take full control of Imez's sunflower seed crushing facility near the Ukrainian port of Odessa. Ukraine is a particularly important producer of the product. ADM estimates that the country is currently the world's second largest supplier after Russia, boasting an annual output of almost 5m tonnes a year. Mark Zenuk, vice president of ADM's European and Asian operations believes the company's latest acquisition is an important step in consolidating its position within the wider global market for sunflower oil. "The Imez facility at Illitchevsk complements our global asset base in an important origination location," he stated. "We look forward to working with Ukrainian farmers to help meet the changing needs of our food customers due to evolving global demands," he stated. Sunflower seed production around the world was set at 7.48 million metric tonnes in the 2001-02 growing season, increasing to 10.46 in 2005-06, according to US Department of Agriculture figures. Demand for the product during the same period increased from 7.52 to 9.84 million tonnes.