'95 Report Put Birdfood Impact at $423 Million
Specific numbers on the size of the birdfood sector within the U.S.
sunflower industry can be difficult to come by. That's partly due to
the competitive nature of the business; partly because no public or
quasi-public agency closely tracks the numbers on a regular basis; and
partly because some oil-type seeds can, depending upon market demand and
oil content levels, move back and forth between the birdfood and oilseed
Perhaps the most in-depth economic examination of the U.S. birdfood
sector can be found in a report released in 1995 by North Dakota State
University agricultural economists. Their study, which used 1991-93 as
its base period, examined the entire U.S. sunflower industry. It placed
the annual economic impact (direct and secondary) of the overall
industry at $2.7 billion - including $423 million attributed
specifically to the birdfood sector.
According to the NDSU report, approximately 236,450 metric tons of oil
sunflower seed and about 35,300 metric tons of confection sunflower seed
were consumed annually for birdfood in the United States during 1991
The direct economic impact from the primary processing of oil-type
sunflower seed for birdfood was estimated to be about $45.4 million per
year during the three-year study period, with the annual domestic
consumption of sunflower for birdfood resulting in $91.9 million of
direct economic activity. (That $91.9 million encompassed
transportation, packaging, marketing/distribution activities and retail
Together, those two categories amounted to $137.3 million in annual
direct economic impact. Secondary impacts each year, brought the
overall annual impact up to $423 million.
Since the 1991-93 study period, the overall birdfood sector has, of
course, grown substantially Sunflower seed has shared in that growth -
and continues to do so as the new century approaches.
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