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Pecan Leaders Meet in Dallas on Tuesday

Pecan industry leaders from across the US and Mexico representing roughly 85% global supply met in Grapevine Texas Tuesday to discuss the global landscape, current market conditions, global supply, price fixing through various chokepoints in the supply chain, mandatory changes coming to grades and standards as well as cultural management practices in the orchard. .…..What is…. “The future of the pecan industry if growers remain passive on these boards.”


The American Pecan Council and the American Pecan Promotion Board (say that five times quickly), had a full board meeting beginning in the morning with APPB. The meeting began with USDA reminding the board of its duties and limitations based on the rules of the Federal Marketing Order. Activities such as price fixing and lobbying are not allowed under the FMO. 


They discussed financials, reporting, and a new project to accumulate and organize quality information about pecan research done over the years. The idea being that with various different universities, research facilities, dietitians, nutritionist, scientist and the like currently doing and having already completed studies on pecans across the US we should have a “library” for this information so that we reduce the risk of duplicating studies and wasting research dollars. 


The APPB meeting also covered marketing activities here in the US as well as a look at the Mexican market to better understand what potentials for consumption exist in the Mexican market. With a population of around 126 million of which approximately 45% fall into the middle class, pecans assumed target market, and free trade between the US and Mexico. The market shows potential for increased consumption. 


A representative of COME’ NUEZ, the Mexican Pecan Growers Association, was in attendance and offered his insights into the prospects of the Mexican consumer market and shared some of the marketing activities currently being done by their organization in the country. 


The APPB will be commissioning a study in the Mexican market similar to other identified markets to determine the potential of the market and identify where opportunities may exist. 


The American Pecan Council meeting began immediately after the APPB finished around 11:30am. The APC covered some of the the same house keeping as the prior meeting such as financials and current projects.


Under the new leadership of Mr. Larry Don Womack the APC has commissioned a RFP for a project that would evaluate the vendors of the APC. The project will hopefully set a benchmark for evaluating the effectiveness of vendors, and hopefully continue into the future with regular evaluations. Mr. Larry Don said the project will not evaluate the staff of the APC, only the vendors at this time. 


The APC received some surprisingly good news with an increase in MAP & EMP* dollars which is difficult to increase with a fixed pool of money from the government funded programs that quite a few organizations compete for each year. 


The council then delivered updates on current marketing programs in China, Germany and India. The big news being the reduced tariffs for pecan entering India. The Weber Shandwick team was in attendance and delivered their usual stellar performance on marketing activities. 


Several growers raised concerns about the minimally updated social accounts and websites and were wondering why certain areas had been so neglected. After doing some back and forth we find out that all issues raised were jobs given to either staff or other contractors and were not under the control of Weber Shandwick which suggest to me that maybe we should be relying more on this contractor. After attending these meetings for around 6 years now I have noticed that one contractor seems to deliver consistently with any of the task undertaken and that is the team at Weber Shandwick, these cats know marketing. 


We also received updates about coming changes to grades and standards for pecans. Mr. Dan Zedan gave an update of how he has single handedly rewritten the grades and standard for our benefit and Mr. Alexander Ott doted upon him with a sort of congratulations reassuring us commoners of what is good for us, with the added suggestion that these new grades and standards should become mandatory for the pecan industry. 


In the meeting shellers requested that we change the rules to allow them representation without restriction of the regions because there are now fewer large shellers and they cannot fill board seats with the same regional restrictions as growers. Which suggests to me that maybe large shellers should have fewer seats on the board since the board is meant to be representative of the industry. 


However since the shellers association is so closed off and tight lipped with information, I can only speak to what I see in the industry that many smaller and medium sized grower / shellers  might be more representative of the current industry conditions. In my limited knowledge I have seen a trend of more and more growers shelling their own product in a more vertically integrated operation.


A special thanks to all the board members, growers and shellers who give their time and resources to these boards and these tasks to grow our industry. 


*MAP – Market Access Program

*EMP – Emerging Markets Program