As of the end of April the American pecan industry has purchased 22% fewer foreign pecans than last year at the same time representing a decrease of nearly 21 million pounds of pecans*.
By April of 2019 foreign pecan purchases by American handlers had exceeded just over 95 million (95,551,047) pounds of pecans, however this year is shaping up slightly differently. As American pecan growers express their disapproval of handlers purchase of imported pecans, the industry seems to be listening. American pecan shellers have purchased fewer foreign pecans than last year.
As of April 2020 foreign pecan purchases by American handlers are at just under 75 million (74,646,204) pounds of pecans, representing a decrease of 20,904,843 pounds so far for the year.
But it is not because demand is falling. Demand in fact, is increasing slightly over last year with shipments up 9.4%, and commitments to ship up 15.2% from same time last year. Not just foreign purchases are down, overall purchases by US shellers have been lower this year. When comparing Sept-April from last year to the same time frame this year, we see that domestic pecan purchases are up 5.8%, while total purchases are down 2.4%.
Many pecan shellers have expressed concern over the recent global economic shutdown. While demand for pecans is currently up, some retailers think there could be a slump coming, which could explain the decrease in overall purchases. Another explanation could simply be timing, many shellers keep 6 or more months of inventory on hand to allow for strategic purchases based on current pecan prices. With 6 months to a year in inventory savvy shellers will wait for the best time to purchase pecans. However, with China purchasing many of the pecans from Mexico, American shellers have had more competition in the foreign market which could also explain the shift in foreign purchases.
What ever the reason for the decreased purchases, American pecan purchases are up slightly and that is good news for American growers, pecan prices are slightly up from a year ago as well. The increase in domestic pecans has helped shore up on the farm pecan prices. With in-shell prices up around $0.10 from the same time last year, growers are glad to see the stronger demand for American pecans.
*C2i – converted to In-shell. When referencing quantities of pecans we will convert the sum total of shelled product and in-shell product into shelled product to allow for easier comparisons. The formula for conversion is 1 pounds of shelled pecans equals 2 pounds of in-shell pecans. This uses the industry standard conversion rate of 50% kernel to shell ratio.