Pecan prices to growers have hit 5 year lows as the in-shell export market has been slow to buy this season and last. The global pecan industry, like other businesses, are beginning to feel the pain of a slow export market to China.
Last season American pecan growers got a rude awakening when the tariffs on US pecans entering China received a tariff hike from 7% to 47% almost overnight. However, prices were not completely devastated as inventories were dramatically cut via weather events at the onset of harvest.
In response to lower available supply, pecan imports have been flooding in to US shellers at record rates allowing for inventories to be replenished for increasing domestic sales. Now with two consecutive years of record high imports, pecan inventories are now at all time highs with what is expected to be a bumper pecan crop here in the southern US.
China has increased pecan purchases since the Phase 1 trade agreement was reached, however the purchases are very minimal compared to pre-trade war levels. While pecan exports to China are increasing, sales are still quite low, when considering its the world’s largest economy.
Domestic sales in the US have been on the rise, however that market is largely represented by only a few companies and does not yet trickle down to the wholesale grower level. Growers who shell and market their own product, sell at much better prices, however this is not norm across the US.
It is still early in the season and many growers out west are still waiting to begin harvest, hopefully by then the market will have settled and more buyers may have entered the market by this time. Chinese buyers have definitely been more active in the market this year as lower prices make the higher tariff more palatable, and brings the cost back into line with what can be marketed to Chinese consumers. China appear to be price shopping currently, but as the February 12th Chinese New Year draws closer, buyers will have to make their Choices pretty soon.