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.
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:
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada-Pulses and Special Crops Section
- Agri-Food Trade Service
- Canadian Special Crops Association
- National Sunflower Association of Canada Inc.
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.
|Product ($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%|
|Product (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%|
|Prince Edward Island||0||29,993||22,438||0|
|United Arab Emirates||12,793,220||20,106,230||15,289,544||5,231,695||-59.1%|