Skip to Content

The Importance of Marketing in Pecans

There’s an upcoming vote on increasing the Pecan Commodity Commission assessment from 1/2 cent a pound to 1 cent per pound. The Agricultural Commodity Commission for Pecans is a farmer funded self-help program providing funding in the areas of research, education, and promotion on behalf of Georgia Pecans. There is also talk of creating a Federal Marketing Order sometime in the future. I cannot tell anyone how to vote, but I would like to offer some important information regarding marketing and what it’s done for almonds and pistachios.

Mike Adams, President of The U.S. Pecan Council gave a presentation at the Southeastern Pecan Growers Conference on how pecan marketing needs to increase compared to other tree nuts. He also wrote an article in the Pecan South magazine on the same subject. Most of the information below is from his presentation and news article.

The pecan industry has a large representation of various associations involved in pecan production across the nation. We have 2 national associations (one for growers and one for processors), 3 regional grower associations, 14 state grower groups, and 2 state commodity boards. But, pecans have NO national trade association representing pecans.

For the last 50 years, the U.S. pecan industry has been stagnant. For example, in 1963 the crop size was 365 million pounds. That is essentially the same size as the 2012 crop and 150 to 180 million pounds more than the 2013 crop.

Compare the pecan crop to almonds. In 1960 the almond crop was 61 million pounds. The almond crop in 2012 was over 2 billion pounds. The almond crop is 33 times larger than it was over 50 years ago. Over that same 50 year period, pecans have had one 400 million pound crop, nine 300 million pound crops, and the other 40 years bouncing between 100 and 200 million pounds. Pecans have not increased even by a factor of 2, much less by a factor of 33 as almonds have.

In 1960 the farm value of almonds was $29 million. In 2012 the farm value of almonds was $3.8 billion. The farm value of almonds is 133 times more than it was in 1960. In pecans, from 1960 to 2012, the farm value increase is by only a factor of ten. So, pecans are ten times more valuable than they were in 1960, while almonds are 133 times more valuable. Almonds have also increased production by 1,939,000,000 pounds over 50 years, while pecans have produced about the same average size crop.

This brings up a great question: How can a commodity increase the supply while at the same time increasing the farm value?

In order for supply, demand, and price to increase together, either more consumers bought almonds at a given price, or the same number of consumers bought more almonds at a higher price, or both, which is most likely the case.

One of the biggest factors for the almond increase is marketing. The pecan industry is in need of a comprehensive, forward looking strategy to market the entire crop every year.

Marketing is not a 50 year task. The results of marketing can be accomplished in a short time period. A great example is what the pistachio industry has done. Go into any upscale supermarket today and notice the pistachio display. The American Pistachio Growers were spending only $400,000 on marketing seven years ago. The group now spends $10 million dollars on marketing. Have you noticed all the pistachio ads during sporting events on TV? The results speak for themselves.

How important is marketing? According to the President of the California Almond Board, “73 percent of our budget is dedicated to global market development.”

Just 10 years ago the almond crop was one billion pounds and the price was $1.11 a pound. Last year the almond crop was two billion pounds and the average price per pound was $1.92. Almonds increased production by 1 billion pounds and the price was higher!

Since 2002, the Almond price has increased 73%, walnut price has increased 143%, and the pistachio price increased 136%.

As a pecan industry, would we like for our crop size to double and our price almost double in just ten years also?

It’s important to remember South Africa has planted enough trees that they will produce 90 million pounds of pecans in 10 to 15 years. South Africa harvests pecans in July. If China buys from Africa and the U.S. production increases with all the new acres planted, where will the U.S. pecans go?

More funding for marketing increased the demand for almonds and pistachios. The same can happen for pecans.