As the holiday rush has largely been fulfilled and pecan retailers are on the tail-end of fulfilling orders before the last shipping dates, wholesale pecan prices have begun to level out. The early crop beginning in Georgia moving west has been harvested and is now in the cleaning and shelling process. Eastern growers are finishing up the harvest this year while growers further west as still in the middle stages of harvest.
Retail pecan shipments have been stronger than ever according to various outlets across the country. Marketing campaigns by the American Pecan Council have played an instrumental role in driving demand. As I have traveled around the US this harvest season, I have had multiple people ask me how I pronounce the “pecan” in areas that previously had never heart of pecans. The recent “pecan debate” launched by the Pecan Council staff had pecans at the top of the mind in consumers around the country.
Wholesale pecan shipments have also had a great start to the season with overall pecan shipments up 27.8% over last year at the same time, and even export shipments are up for the first of the season. Exports have fallen slightly to most major buyers as the re-closing of economies around the globe has kept buyers very cautious, China has been purchasing in the first quarter of this season, enough to bring the overall exports into the black.
Unfortunately for eastern growers these increases in demand have not trickled down to the farm level. Prices at the farm gate for wholesale in-shell have been low. In fact prices on the farm are at their lowest in the last decade. With new orchards coming online and Mexican imports at record levels, inventory has increased here at harvest. While demand will consume the inventory, the growers who need to sell at harvest time have caused the market prices to slump even further, offering great deals to buyers with cash available.
Savvy growers are headed straight to cold storage with their inventory, to wait for the initial lull in prices to pass after harvest. Wholesale prices typically recover after the harvest season offering much better returns to growers. For now the smaller growers who have no other choices will accept lower prices if they sell on the wholesale market. Some growers are selling their crop online via social media and the web, and many have reported good success selling into their local markets. The American Pecan Council offers a wide array of tools for all growers to use to with their digital advertising and media.
Even the wholesale market has leveled off and prices seem to have found the bottom. As inventory continues to move out of the warehouses prices seem to have leveled off and even began to tick up slightly from the last couple of weeks. Wholesale farm gate prices usually dip this time of year with all the inventory coming onto the market, however this year prices seem to have leveled off a little sooner that last year. Even with decade low prices on the farm, it is a welcome sight to see prices level off for both growers and buyers.