The International Nut & Dried Fruit Congress was scheduled to be held in Dubai this year, however the recent global spread of Covid -19 and the ensuing social distancing required to slow the spread of the virus, prompted INC officials to postpone the event until next year. The INC has elected to move the event to next year in May of 2021.
Instead, this year the INC decided to hold a virtual conference online to allow industry participants to engage and ask questions about the coming changes and current situation in each of the major industries represented by the International Nut & Dried Fruit Congress.
This years Pecan roundtable was headed by Mr. Jeffrey Sanfilippo, CEO of John B. Sanfilippo & Sons Inc., a nut processing and distribution company based in Illinois. JBSS is a large distributor of nuts under multiple brands owned by the company such as Fisher Nuts & Orchard Valley Harvest among others.
Mr. Sanfilippo was joined by two other major pecan suppliers, Mr. Ricardo Martinez Cobia from Mexico, and Mr. Andreas Snyman from South Africa. The three gentlemen discussed the current market conditions from each of their respective areas along with demand and supply trends being witnessed from each perspective.
Mr.Sanfilippo discussed the effects on pecan demand his company has witnessed since the onset Covid-19 and the shift in consumer purchasing due to the change in the functioning of the economy. Mr. Sanfillippo says his company has witnessed a shift by retailers to private label nuts as opposed to branded pecan products in order to offer lower prices on the shelves. Mr. Sanfillippo did mention one of the issues with this shift in behavior is that the branded pecan products are the one that spend money on consumer research and product development, whereas the private label products are far less likely to spend money on developing the market.
Mr. Cobian from Mexico recapped their season and the continued growth of supply coming from Mexican pecan growers investment in new pecan orchards. Mr. Cobian touched on the demand from China since the onset of the trade war with the US and the ensuing tariff increase placed on US Pecans. Mr. Cobian did say that prices in Mexico have not been significantly higher in Mexico as compared to US prices, but that the trade war has largely lowered prices across the board. Local demand in Mexico is strong and seeing some growth, and China was beginning to accept smaller size pecans like large (LG) and extra large (XL) as opposed to its former desire for only Oversized (OVS) pecans from the US.
Mr. Snyman followed up with talks of the South African pecan crop which is currently in harvest. South Africa’s crop is growing significantly but not without issues. One of the major issues in South Africa is still the instability on the government and the seizing of land from white farmers. While it is a concern, most farmers are still planting orchards and the South African pecan crop is growing fast. While South Africa still sends 90% of its pecan crop to China, Mr. Snyman said that he expects China shipments to continue but to slow, for the year, as China’s economy has slowed with the shutdown from Covid-19, and they are estimated to be holding around 400 containers of pecans in cold storage.
The panel touched on many different aspects of pecan demand and product in each of their areas, and answered questions in real time sent in by the attending audience. The roundtable was very informative and each of the panelists brought insightful information to the discussion. For a full review of the meeting you can check out the INC website under the member section.