The pecan industry is experiencing dramatic growth this year with pecan shipments surging 14.61% over the same time last harvest season, but the pecans may not be American.
American pecan growers made a commitment several years back to clean up the pecan industry and bring transparency to a very fragmented and seedy commercial pecan shelling industry that had been manipulating prices and stunting growth for decades.
American pecan growers saw great potential in the market if they could manage to get out from under the tyranny of the pecan shellers more organized labor union. After several years of planning the American pecan growers managed to form a voting council and hire a full time staff to report much needed data that has allowed growers to better serve commercial pecan customers, along with a myriad of other benefits.
The growers have managed to shine a light in some dark corners of the pecan industry, but still have many hurdles left to navigate before they can actually celebrate the new found growth in the pecan industry.
The American growers have succeeded immensely at stimulating demand for pecans, and have done so in a relatively short amount of time. Forming the American Pecan Council only 2+/- years ago, growers have seen significant growth in demand for pecans.
Pecan shipments are up 14.61% over the same time last year with the largest portion of that growth taking place right here in the US. Domestic pecan shipments are up 15.41% while export shipments are up 12.65% over the same time last year.
While this news is good for the pecan industry, it not as appealing to American growers as they had hoped for. During this same period of surging pecan growth funded by American pecan growers, the actual purchases of pecans raised on American soil is down 19.89% from the same time last year, and to put that in perspective, American pecan growers lost more than 50 million pounds of pecans last year due to inclement weather. Even with the enormous American inventory losses last year, purchases of American pecans have continued to decrease.
This issue has caused an uproar among pecan growers in the US and has also fueled the debate about current and future pecan council board members. One of the most pressing discussions is the “Council Import Disclosure” debate. American pecan growers are now debating whether or not to require pecan council board members to disclose the quantity of pecans that they import from foreign sources. Many growers expressed that some board members may not be serving the interest of American pecans, but rather their own interests, by utilizing the financial resources of American pecan growers to market foreign purchased pecans.
One grower in middle Texas had this to say about it, “were paying the assessments to market American pecans, and they [are] taking that money and using it to sell Mexican pecans”.
He is referring to the increase in Mexican pecan imports into the US. Over the last couple of years the American pecan shellers have dramatically increased imports of Mexican pecans.
For now the “Council Import Disclosure” debate exists mainly at the coffee shops among pecan growers, but some say they plan to bring this issue to the next council meetings.
Whether the pecans being demanded are American or Mexican, the industry as a whole is headed in the right direction with steady growth. However the American growers footing the bill for this new found growth say they don’t intend to let this discretion on the council stand.