Pecan imports to the US from Mexico and other countries are pacing slower than last year’s record highs as wholesale market prices lag and the industry works through a larger inventory than last year at the same time.
Demand for pecans in the month of September was the highest month on record for the last 2 years according to APC data. Prior to September 2020 the highest month on record for pecan shipments was November 2018 at just over 44 million pounds shipped. Thanksgiving and Christmas has traditionally been the busiest time for pecan shipments falling perfectly inline with pecan harvest season, allowing for fresh pecans during holiday festivities.
The most recent September numbers show strong shipments and an encouraging start to a season, in an industry where political turmoil and a global pandemic has sent pecan exports on a roller coaster ride of uncertainty. China has slowly re-entered the market and has been purchasing small quantities. But the growth in demand has come from right here at home in the domestic market. The American Pecan Council identified the domestic market early on as a place for potential growth and has been focusing efforts on educating Americans about the health benefits and versatility of American Pecans.
Northern Mexico is also a large grower pecans and several shelling companies in the US import pecans from Mexico into the US to be sold into the domestic market. Last year 320,641,773 pounds of pecans were imported into the US, largely from Northern Mexico. The last two seasons saw the largest pecan imports in history, as growers have worked to improve demand through marketing and awareness to consumers.
Growers have not only been working in the US to bolster domestic consumption; growers have been working in various markets around the globe to introduce pecans to new consumers. In collaboration with the APC, the US Pecan Growers Council has been working in foreign markets for more than a decade hosting trade missions, product demonstrations and attending trade shows in hopes of increasing demand for pecans.
This new demand in the market has increased imports for years. In fact pecan imports have been on the rise for the last decade. This year has seen a slow down in pecan imports as many buyers are hesitant to take on larger inventories as covid-19 cases rise around the globe and talks of shutdown loom. For now, many growers are selling online and retail sales are strong. Wholesale quantities, for many growers, are headed to the freezer until some of the current inventory works through and wholesale prices recover.
*American Pecan Council