21 Sep Sunflower Markets
Selling your Sunflower Production? Sunflower Markets are Strong
As we approach harvest thoughts naturally turn to selling the production and capturing the year’s rewards. Two main end uses exist for your Black Oil sunflower seeds – Oil Crush for food and industrial use and Birdseed for backyard bird feeders. A third market exists in some areas for Wildlife Food Plots to attract birds for hunting. Sunflower markets have been strong this year and continue to strengthen as we move toward harvest. Prices at the crush plants are up 50 cents/cwt since the end of August. In the past month, Nusun prices have been moving toward previous historical highs trading at $31.80/cwt – $15.00 over last year at this time. Keep in mind this is prior to premiums paid for oil content and for High Oleic oil seed. Birdfood prices currently at $30.00-$33.00 in the Dakotas have gained up to $4.00 in some locations since August’s end. The crush companies are already offering Act of God contracts for 2022 production in the $27/cwt range – a good indicator that demand remains high going into next year. Wildlife prices follow the crush and bird seed markets when overall demand is high.
End Use Segments
Oil Crush Sunflower Markets.
Sunflower is in the oil seed group of crops having oil percentage in the 40% range. In the US both Cargill and ADM crush sunflower seed for edible use as a food ingredient and as cooking oil. The Snack Food and Fast-Food industries make extensive use of Sunflower oil. Global oil use is 21 million tons. The US is a minor player in this market with annual oil production of 250 thousand tons. Since the major producers are in Eastern Europe production here is heavily dependent on European production volumes and as a small player our domestic market tends to fluctuate wildly year on year. Processors offer growers Act of God contracts for specific volumes that ensure growers a secure price and market for their seeds. This market pays premiums for seed with higher-than-average oil percentages. In the recent 10 years demand for High Oleic Acid oil has dominated the market and offers a small premium vs conventional oil seed. HO oil has more stability and lasts longer in fryers and can be used for industrial oil needs.
Bird Food Sunflower Markets
Backyard bird feeding is big business in the US and sunflower seeds are a key ingredient in the feed mix. While oil percentage and oleic content are less important in this market it does demand black oil seeds within a specific test weight range. Birdseed processors including familiar brands like Pennington and Scotts exist across the US. However, many suppliers are small operations and look to source product locally providing a market for growers. As with the crushers these companies offer contracts for growers. Birdseed processors offer prices competitive and at times better than the crush companies as bird feeding tends to be a more stable market than oil.
Wildlife Food Plots
In parts of the US black oil sunflower seeds are used in food plots to attract wildlife for hunting. This market specifically for bird hunters is demanding dark black seeds and herbicide tolerance primarily Clearfield hybrids. Similar to the bird food market the wildlife market is regional and many small seed companies are providing products in local geographies. Growers can often find a profitable local outlet for their production.