The U.S. continues to be the dominant supplier of confection sunflower in-shell and kernel worldwide. Recognized as having the highest quality, U.S. processors of confection sunflower have developed technology that currently surpasses any other supplier in both volume capacity and quality control standards. Several of the domestic processing plants have gone through major renovations. Some have added processing facilities to provide specific consumer requirements such as roasting and flavoring.
The quality control of confection sunflower in the U.S. starts on the farm. Confection sunflower planting in the U.S. is largely done on a contract basis. This contracting functions as a control for quantity and quality. Growers have learned to produce a better quality product through good management practices. The pattern is to generate a higher value product through quality production and processing and to give the consumer a broad choice of raw, semi-processed and fully processed products.
The industry continues to improve quality through breeding new hybrids. Examples are hybrid seeds that produce a larger seed size and others that have a longer shelf life.