The United States has long been the global leader in pecan planting, production and marketing, but has only recently organized on a national level across the major pecan producing states in the southern US.
Back in 2016, after more than a year of grass roots efforts, pecan growers across the US came together to officially form a federal marketing order for pecan promotion, research and data collection. The federal marketing order is managed by a dedicated board made up of growers and shellers formally referred to as the American Pecan Council. The American Pecan Council, APC for short, oversees the federal marketing order and makes decisions about how to best use assessment dollars for American Pecans marketing activities, research activities, data collection activities along with a myriad of other activities related to the expansion of our great market.
The federal marketing order, funded by pecan grower assessments, is required to undergo an audit to determine its effectiveness and ultimately the ROI growers receive for their efforts and dollars.
The recent audit of the federal marketing order, shows that growers have used their monies wisely and have seen millions in returns on the assessments paid in. In fact the report went as far to show that more monies could be returned if growers invested even more assessment dollars. (Check out the article and full report here.)
While the American Pecan Council has had immense successes, it has not been without setbacks and challenges. Less than a year after growers formed the council for the pecan marketing order the US and China entered into an economic trade dispute that sent farmgate pecan prices tumbling. Within a matter of months, tariffs on American pecans went from a historic 7% low to around 50% making the industry’s single largest customer, mainland China, all but stop buying.
And if a trade war along with decade low prices wasn’t enough to contend with, the American Pecan Council experienced its first scandal, when a whistleblower came forward to report that council member, Dan Zedan of Navarro Pecan Company, Nature’s Finest Foods, ect… was attempting to use American Pecan growers dollars to promote Mexican pecans purchased at a lower price. The scandal shined a light on foriegn pecan imports into the US and growers again took action and overcame.
The resiliency of growers in this industry over the last 5 years has been astonishing. The pecan federal marketing order has been more than challenged over its first 5 years, and pecan growers across the US have responded. The federal marketing order came up for renewal recently and growers have voted to continue the referendum. At a recent zoom meeting, a USDA representative shared with the group that the referendum had passed and more than 2/3rds of pecan growers in the US voted to continue the pecan federal marketing order. Meeting participants were all smiles when the news was received, knowing the future of the American Pecan Council was secure. The referendum comes up for vote periodically and growers decide if they want to keep the referendum in place. In 2021 growers have voted yes.