Exports of sunflower seeds expanded in value by an overall average 39.2% since 2016 when export sales for sunflower seeds were $3.4 billion.
From 2019 to 2020, export revenues increased by 6.2% for the chewable snack that can be eaten raw, and roasted, salted or with added flavorings such as barbecue, pickle and ranch.
Sunflower plants are the national flower of Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine produce about 55% of the global production for sunflower seeds.
There are 2 major categories of commercially sold sunflower seeds, identifiable by the color of the seed husks. Seeds with solid black husks are typically pressed to extract sunflower oil. The other category has black-and-white striped husks are sometimes called confectionary sunflower seeds because they are mostly consumed as snack foods.
Sunflower seeds are also used as garnishes or are sprouted and used in salads.
The mechanically dehulled seed kernels are sometimes added to baked goods including bread for flavoring, or in hard sugar candy. Sunflower butter is a product resembling peanut butter and is a common substitute for consumers with nut allergies.
Sunflower seeds also serve as pet food or feed for wild birds and other small animals.
By value, the 5 biggest exporters of sunflower seeds (Romania, mainland China, Russia, Bulgaria and France) sold over three-fifths (61.3%% of all sunflower seeds exported during 2020.
Applying a continental perspective, countries in Europe supplied the highest dollar worth of exported sunflower seeds during 2020 with shipments valued at $3.3 billion or 71% of the global total. In second place were exporters in Asia (20.4%) trailed by those in North America (5.7%), Latin America (2.7%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Africa (0.2%) then Oceania (0.03%) led by Australia.
Shifting our focus to imports, the 5 leading importers of sunflower seeds in 2020 were Turkey, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Russia and France. Combined, that quintet of top import countries bought over two-fifths (42.3%) of globally imported sunflower seeds as measured by dollar value.
The above percentages suggest the total 99 exporters of sunflower seeds (61.3% for the corresponding top 5 exporters) is a more concentrated cohort compared to 174 buying countries, islands and territories. The top 5 importers accounted for a smaller portion of its world total for imported sunflower seeds at 42.3%.
As for global imports of sunflower seeds by continent, 69% of sunflower seeds purchased on international markets was delivered to customers in Europe ahead of importers in Asia (22.9%), North America (4.2%), Africa (3%), Latin America (0.6%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean then Oceania (0.2%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
We calculated the average unit price paid by importers of sunflower seeds to be $711 per ton in 2020. That dollar amount reflects a flatlining -0.4% slowdown from the average tonnage rate of $714 during 2019.
For research purposes, the 6-digit Harmonized Tariff System code prefix is 120600 for sunflower seeds.
Top Sunflower Seeds Exports by Country
Below are the top 20 countries that exported the highest dollar value worth of sunflower seeds during 2020.
- Romania: US$698.7 million (14.8% of total sunflower seed exports)
- China: $648.4 million (13.8%)
- Russia: $562.5 million (11.9%)
- Bulgaria: $533.9 million (11.3%)
- France: $445.2 million (9.5%)
- United States: $236.7 million (5%)
- Hungary: $223.4 million (4.7%)
- Turkey: $193.6 million (4.1%)
- Moldova: $189.2 million (4%)
- Austria: $145.3 million (3.1%)
- Argentina: $106 million (2.3%)
- Spain: $96.3 million (2%)
- Kazakhstan: $83 million (1.8%)
- Slovakia: $74.5 million (1.6%)
- Ukraine: $65.2 million (1.4%)
- Serbia: $64.8 million (1.4%)
- Germany: $41.9 million (0.9%)
- Canada: $32.4 million (0.7%)
- Netherlands: $31.4 million (0.7%)
- Italy: $31.1 million (0.7%)
By value, the listed 20 countries shipped 95.6% of globally exported sunflower seeds in 2020.
Among the top exporters, the fastest-growing sunflower seeds exporters since 2019 were: Argentina (up 25.7%), Bulgaria (up 25.1%), Germany (up 22.4%) and Serbia (up 14.1%).
Those countries that posted declines in their exported sunflower seeds sales were led by: Kazakhstan (down -47.1%), Italy (down -46.9%), United States of America (down -20.9%), Romania (down -17.3%) and Hungary (down -13%).
Top Sunflower Seeds Imports by Country
Overall spending on imported sunflower seeds accelerated by 40.2% over the 5-year period starting in 2016 and grew by 9.8% year over year since 2019.
Below are the 20 best buying markets as measured by the highest dollar value worth of sunflower seeds imported during 2020.
- Turkey: US$628.4 million (12.7% of total sunflower seed imports)
- Bulgaria: $497.9 million (10%)
- Netherlands: $366.2 million (7.4%)
- Russia: $332.7 million (6.7%)
- France: $269.4 million (5.4%)
- Germany: $260.8 million (5.3%)
- Spain: $259.1 million (5.2%)
- Romania: $236.1 million (4.8%)
- Ukraine: $218.4 million (4.4%)
- Austria: $163.5 million (3.3%)
- United States: $151.7 million (3.1%)
- Hungary: $114.8 million (2.3%)
- Egypt: $103 million (2.1%)
- Italy: $100.8 million (2%)
- Czech Republic: $97.5 million (2%)
- Iraq: $92 million (1.9%)
- Portugal: $91.9 million (1.9%)
- China: $79.7 million (1.6%)
- Belgium: $62.2 million (1.3%)
- United Kingdom: $52.5 million (1.1%)
By value, the listed 20 countries bought 84.3% of globally imported sunflower seeds in 2020.
Among the top importers, the fastest-growing sunflower seeds importers since 2019 were: Bulgaria (up 81%), United States of America (up 69.6%), United Kingdom (up 68.8%) and Iraq (up 54.1%).
Those countries that posted declines in their imported sunflower seeds purchases were led by: Egypt (down -31.2%), mainland China (down -27.7%), Italy (down -16.6%), Ukraine (down -12.3%) and Spain (down -7.3%).
Imported Sunflower Seeds: Lowest and Highest Unit Prices
In 2020, the world’s average unit price for imports of sunflower seeds was US$711 per ton.
The average tonnage charge for the number one importer of sunflower seeds, Turkey, was significantly lower at $518.
Ranked in ascending order, listed below are the countries paying the lowest average unit prices for imported sunflower seeds in 2020.
- Malawi: US$56 per ton (down -71.7% from 2019)
- Kenya: $58 per ton (down -96.6%)
- Kyrgyzstan: $141 per ton (down -80.9%)
- Botswana: $171 per ton (up 26.7%)
- Lesotho: $261 per ton (down -9.7%)
- Mozambique: $265 per ton (down -92.9%)
- Uzbekistan: $295 per ton (up 1%)
- Tajikistan: $297 per ton (up 11.2%)
- Kazakhstan: $311 per ton (down 0%)
- Bangladesh: $369 per ton (down -74.4%)
- Bosnia/Herzegovina: $382 per ton (up 13%)
- Morocco: $410 per ton (down -62%)
- Portugal: $413 per ton (up 8.4%)
- China: $440 per ton (up 21.2%)
- Czech Republic: $455 per ton (up 11.8%)
There were 6 double-digit reductions in average unit price paid per ton for sunflower seeds from 2019 to 2020 namely low-cost importers Kenya (down -96.6%), Mozambique (down -92.6%), Kyrgyzstan (down -80.9%), Bangladesh (down -74.4%), Malawi (down -71.7%) and Morocco (down -62%).
The following countries paid the highest average unit prices for imported sunflower seeds.
- Ethiopia: US$14,250 per ton (up 853.8% from 2019)
- Ukraine: $10,405 per ton (down -2.5%)
- Zimbabwe: $7,561 per ton (up 713.9%)
- Uganda: $6,765 per ton (up 19.6%)
- Madagascar: $6,500 per ton (2019 data unavailable)
- Bolivia: $6,097 per ton (up 3.4%)
- Moldova: $5,983 per ton (up 18.2%)
- Russia: $5,287 per ton (down -9.5%)
- French Polynesia: $5,000 per ton (up 25%)
- Brunei Darussalam: $5,000 per ton (up 98.8%)
- Japan: $4,859 per ton (up 27%)
- Argentina: $4,743 per ton (up 30.8%)
- Sudan: $4,669 per ton (up 120.5%)
- Zambia: $4,000 per ton (up 33.3%)
- Solomon Islands: $4,000 per ton (down -20%)
The 6 greatest gains in terms of higher average unit prices paid in 2020 compared to 2019 were experienced by importers in Ethiopia (up 853.8%), Zimbabwe (up 713.9%), Sudan (up 120.5%), Brunei Darussalam (up 98.8%), Zambia (up 33.3%) and Argentina (up 30.8%).
See also Top Peanuts Exports & Imports by Country Plus Average Prices, Top Almonds Exporters by Country, Top Cashews Exports & Imports by Country Plus Average Prices and Top Pistachios Exports & Imports by Country Plus Average Prices
Alibaba, Sunflower Seed Showroom. Accessed on February 25, 2022
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Field Listing: Exports – Commodities. Accessed on February 25, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 25, 2022
Wikipedia, Sunflower seed. Accessed on February 25, 2022