Canadian Sunflower Seed

The taste of sunlight

In late summer on the Canadian prairies, you'll often find vast carpets of gold stretching to the horizon. They're not wheatfields, though - they're whole galaxies of sunflowers, their faces turned to the blue western sky. When harvested, they serve a broad range of purposes in the confectionery and baking sectors, and in the birdseed and animal feed industries.

Canada is the world's thirteenth-largest exporter and twenty-fifth largest producer of sunflower seeds, producing both confectionery and oilseed varieties. We're highly competitive in the international market and ship more than half of our production abroad, over 80 percent of which goes to the United States.

Healthy nutrition

Canada grows most of its sunflowers in the clean, fertile soils of our southern prairies. The seeds are very nutritious and their oil is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, making them easily digestible. Their protein content is very high and they contain almost every vitamin except vitamin C, as well as essential minerals such as magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. This makes the roasted confectionery varieties, either shelled or unshelled, an ideal snack for health-conscious consumers. We sell these treats into export markets in the United States, Germany, Holland, Japan, Mexico and South America, and the Middle East.

Birds feel the same way about sunflower seeds that people do - they're a favourite treat, and a bird feeder containing oil sunflower seeds will soon be thronged with visitors. Canadian oil sunflower seeds go mainly to the North American birdseed industry, in both bulk shipments and in cleaned and bagged products, and they're also used to produce ingredients for animal feed.

Adaptability and innovation

Sunflowers are highly adaptable because their deep tap roots enable them to withstand both very dry and very wet conditions. They can also be harvested, without reduction in quality, even after an early snowfall.

Still, there's always room for improvement, and our current research is focused on developing dwarf, short-season varieties that are suited to the cooler climates of northern Canada. We're also working on higher-yield hybrid varieties, advanced crop management techniques, and improved processing approaches.

Taste the Canadian difference

Canadian sunflower seeds are an excellent choice for both the confectionery and the feed industry. For further information on Canada's sunflower seeds, please visit:

Government websites

Industry websites



Trade Statistics

The following tables represent Canada's total trade in a given export commodity based on Statistics Canada data. The product categories represent HS code groupings and have not been modified. In most cases, statistics have been presented at the 6 or 8 digit level. Statistics are presented in Canadian dollars and are complete through year end 2010.

Canada's Exports to All Countries (HS Code 120600) - ($CAD)
  2007 2008 2009 2010 Growth 2007-2010
Sunflower seeds, whether or not broken 73,884,132 80,850,681 65,157,824 33,128,115 -55.2%

Canada's Exports to All Countries (HS Code 120600) - (Quantity, KGM)
  2007 2008 2009 2010 Growth 2007-2010
Sunflower seeds, whether or not broken 142,440,524 97,486,787 70,731,578 45,469,389 -68.1%

Canada's Monthly Exports to All Countries
(HS Code 120600, Value $CAD)
Month 2007 2008 2009 2010
Jan 5,108,836 6,653,249 7,546,057 3,900,158
Feb 6,390,411 7,483,075 8,177,980 2,873,224
Mar 7,685,771 6,514,898 7,610,954 3,447,280
Apr 7,934,488 5,865,731 8,894,785 2,531,498
May 6,157,915 5,454,391 5,871,423 3,199,776
Jun 6,365,944 6,744,171 5,658,721 2,269,314
Jul 7,140,875 5,298,792 4,737,656 1,952,794
Aug 5,420,935 4,461,614 3,118,143 2,344,973
Sep 2,579,337 3,067,933 2,127,440 1,989,940
Oct 5,756,094 7,845,035 2,354,099 1,872,028
Nov 6,910,633 9,790,723 5,348,464 3,103,288
Dec 6,432,893 11,671,069 3,712,102 3,643,842
TOTAL 73,884,132 80,850,681 65,157,824 33,128,115

Canada's Exports to All Countries by Province
(HS Code 120600, Value $CAD)
Province 2007 2008 2009 2010
Alberta 328,746 178,188 53,707 28,326
British Columbia 78,141 25,000 107,684 63,141
Manitoba 70,789,065 72,635,952 61,178,883 32,246,309
New Brunswick 2,756 65,905 143,598 141,437
Nova Scotia 0 22,825 32,161 19,778
Ontario 560,568 1,501,205 478,453 119,136
Prince Edward Island 0 29,993 22,438 0
Québec 697,251 5,175,082 2,302,126 285,503
Saskatchewan 1,427,605 1,216,531 838,774 224,485

Canada's Top 10 Sunflower Seed Markets
(HS Code 120600, Value $CAD)
Country 2007 2008 2009 2010 Growth 2007-2010
TOTAL: 73,884,132 80,850,681 65,157,824 33,128,115 -55.2%
United States 51,079,969 48,854,347 38,689,010 18,478,777 -63.8%
United Arab Emirates 12,793,220 20,106,230 15,289,544 5,231,695 -59.1%
Egypt 736,200 281,520 20,790 1,194,414 62.2%
Mexico 1,270,146 1,098,834 1,591,401 1,141,239 -10.1%
Syria 1,582,129 1,051,732 2,082,722 763,804 -51.7%
Iraq 0 169,500 112,106 566,041 -
Costa Rica 425,735 702,324 601,409 489,255 14.9%
Japan 82,092 521,113 694,734 438,347 434.0%
Lebanon 374,902 601,434 315,509 433,163 15.5%
Turkey 458,312 398,845 339,447 394,715 -13.9%