The North American pecan harvest is well under way and the market has been a mixed bag for growers with depressed wholesale prices on the farm. The wholesale meat market is another story all together.
Pecan shipments opened the season at their highest level in the past three years. July and August ended the last official season higher than the previous year as well showing a great start to the 2020-21 pecan season.
Even though China is slow to enter the market, American Pecans are flying off the shelves and into consumers carts. This season’s open marks the single highest month of shipments on record as reported by the American Pecan Council. Shipments have been strong even in the face of a global pandemic and the American Pecan Council has done well with marketing pecans in the face of shifting consumer habits.
Until September 2020 the single highest month for shipments was November of 2019, and prior to that it was November 2018. November has traditionally been the big push to supply fresh American Pecans for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays celebrations here in the US, but thanks to the marketing efforts initiated by pecan growers and shellers in the US the industry is shifting to a more robust demand throughout the year.
Lower prices due to an expected larger grower inventory is definitely playing a role in the increased demand, but not as one might think. Current inventory levels have dropped significantly with the increased shipments pushing inventories to their lowest September inventory to-date.
As bargain prices continue on the wholesale market inventories have dropped, down 27% from last September report and down almost 8% from September 2018. As the harvest moves forward, we are now seeing that the crop may not be as big as once thought. With Oklahoma and Texas both reporting a very small native pecan crop, and Alabama losing most of its coastal pecan crop, it will be up to the remaining improved varieties in the east and west to fill any possible gaps in the supply this year. Thankfully the improved pecan crop is looking robust. Eastern growers and growers all the way into middle Texas are reporting a “good” to “damn good” improved pecan crop. Yields are showing an “on” year and quality is quite good in most regions. This is good news for growers who have experienced weather related issues for 2 years in a row. If demand continues to hold into the season, we could inventories drop to new lows.