Harvest pressure on confectionery sunflowers

Commodity News Service Canada — The Manitoba sunflower harvest is progressing nicely, which is weighing on confectionery bids despite some quality concerns.

“The sunflowers are still coming off… but there shouldn’t be much left by mid-November,” said Mike Durand, of Nestibo Agra in Deloraine, Manitoba. He said both yields and quality were variable, with the earlier seeded fields seeing the most issues.

While there were quality issues, Durand said there would still be more than enough top end supplies to meet the demand.

“The buyers are not willing to change their standards . . . as there is no market for a No. 2 sunflower in either the snackfood or the bakery market.” As a result, it’s sometimes up to the processor to get creative as the lower-quality supplies can be salvaged and upgraded through cleaning.

From a pricing standpoint, any quality concerns have not necessarily translated into strengthening bids. The U.S. is the largest export market for Canadian confectionery seed, and “they are not actively buying,” said Durand.

Confectionery bids were in the 30 cents per pound range a few weeks ago, but have now dropped down to 25 cents for good-quality supplies, said Durand. He linked the decline in prices to a combination of harvest pressure and the lack of U.S. demand.

Meanwhile, prices for oilseed sunflower seed have not fallen to the same extent, with current bids holding relatively steady in the 19 to 20 cents per pound area, said Durand. With better yields for oilseed sunflowers compared to confectionery, he said farmers were seeing good returns for oilseed supplies.

Manitoba’s sunflower crop is currently estimated at 74,800 tonnes by Statistics Canada, which compares with the 51,900-tonne crop grown the previous year.

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