Profile of National Sunflower Association of Canada

Mission Statement

The association’s mission statement is “to insure the profitability and long term growth of the sunflower crop through industry wide leadership.”


The National Sunflower Association of Canada (NSAC), Inc. was initiated at a meeting in Carman, MB on November 18, 1996.

The meeting was held because the industry-leading oil crushing plant in Altona, MB ceased processing sunflower in 1995 causing sunflower acres to drop from a high of more than 300,000 acres in the 80s to 63,000 acres in 1995. The closure was prompted because a large part of the sunflower acreage had shifted to confection types that were promoted by processors located in various parts of Manitoba’s Red River Valley and southern Alberta.

The association addresses the sunflower industry with one voice and membership includes producers, oil and confection type buyers, exporters and processors, pesticide manufacturers and dealers and the seed industry. In 2016 the association had approximately 450 members from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario.

The association’s mission statement is “to insure the profitability and long term growth of the sunflower crop through industry wide leadership.”

Sunflower production is relatively small in Canada but nonetheless an important part of the MB Agricultural industry.  All sunflower varieties that are grown in Manitoba are hybrids and based on their end use, can be classified into either oil or confectionary-type sunflowers.

Since the initiation of the NSAC, the association has annually conducted on-farm strip trials of new confection and oil type sunflower hybrids, hosted summer tours of research plots and strip trials, and taken over administering the finances of the Manitoba Sunflower Committee. The NSAC also organizes and conducts winter grower meetings in various regions to pass along the latest technologies and information in sunflower production.  Currently, the association holds an annual summer tour in July (this year July 23rd, 2008) and jointly hosts the Manitoba Special Crops Symposium.

Since the establishment of the NSAC in 1996, sunflower acreage has climbed from 63,000 acres to 180,000 acres in 2008. Approximately 90 percent of all sunflowers grown in Canada are located in Manitoba, but a growing share is finding its way into southeastern Saskatchewan. Other small pockets of sunflowers are found in south central Alberta and southern Ontario.
Approximately 65 per cent of all Canadian sunflowers are confection type, which are marketed primarily as roasted snack food in the shell or as dehulled seeds for the baking industry. Although a significant percentage of this market is domestic ‘ (North America), Canadian processors are increasingly accessing markets in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Oilseed sunflowers are used in both birdfeed, dehull and the crushing industry for sunflower oil producing one of the highest quality vegetable oils. The birdfood market is mostly the oilseed type, however some of the smaller confection seeds are also used for birdseed.

Manitoba’s largest export market includes the USA and several European countries.  Oil-type sunflowers grown in Manitoba are either exported for oil crushing or used as bird food both domestically and internationally.  Confectionary sunflowers are processed in Canada and are sorted based on size, with the larges sizes (Jumbos) being the premium product.  Within Manitoba and Alberta there are several secondary processors that roast and flavour in-shell sunflower seeds.