The American pecan industry’s stable growth continues to impress industry experts as the global economic shutdown has disrupted other industries, even threatening bankruptcy of multibillion dollar companies in non-essential services.
American farmers have been feeling the pain of the ongoing trade war between the US and China, as China has reduced its purchases of US agricultural products and levied high tariffs on many of the major commodities produced by US farmers in an effort to discourage purchases from the US. The tactic has worked somewhat, in March to May of 2018 soybean prices were hovering slightly above $10 here in the US as tensions between the two countries began to escalate, soybean prices dropped sharply in the US to around $8.50 a bushel and have remained for over almost 2 years.
Tree nuts from the US also took a big hit with the trade war, Almonds shipments were down 33% from April 2018 to April 2019 and down another 20% from April 2019 to April 2020. Pecan shipments to China have also suffered significantly as China had become the largest trading partner for the US pecan industry due to marketing efforts by the US Pecan Growers Council decade long campaign.
While the pecan industry did temporarily lose one of its largest trading partners, American growers have found success right here at home. Several years ago American pecan growers formed a federal marketing order to reverse declining demand of pecans in the US. While still in its infancy, pecan growers have had great success bolstering domestic consumption.
As pecan exports continue to lag for over a year, overall consumption is up. Domestic consumption has continued to be the driver behind the growth in the pecan industry. Last months report shows an increase in both pecan shipments and commitments to ship.
Pecan exports have dropped 16.3% from 78.8 million pounds in 2019 to 65.9 million pounds so far this year. However even with the drop in exports overall shipments are up for the American pecan industry. With the new found growth in the domestic market pecan shipments are up 9.4% over last years record shipments. Total pecan shipments are up 22.3 million pounds* as of the month of April representing eight months of the reporting season which begins in September each year.
*C2i – Converted to in-shell using a 50% pecan kernel conversion rate. It should be noted that 2018 actual shell out percentages were reported at 48% for the year average. However the industry standard conversion rate is 50%.