California Pistachio Growers and Processors Contribute $6.4 Billion-Plus Impact to State’s Economy

By Judy Hirigoyen

With every new acre of pistachios California reaps a wellspring of economic rewards totaling more than $6.4 billion in the Golden State. A new economic study commissioned by American Pistachio Growers (APG), and released today on the opening day of APG’s 2023 Industry Annual Conference, has quantified the benefits in terms of industry spending for goods and services, jobs created, labor income and contributions from indirect business taxes. The study by Dennis H. Tootelian of the Tootelian Company of Sacramento underscores the growing importance of pistachios to the state’s economy. Data were also analyzed for Arizona and New Mexico.

Tootelian’s number-crunching reveals that the economic impact of California pistachio grower and processor spending on farming operations totaled nearly $3.5 billion annually, or the equivalent of more than $9.5 million per day in 2022. Total economic output, the best measure of economic activity, was calculated by Tootelian at more than $6.4 billion, an average of more than $17.6 million every day, impacting an array of sectors from real estate, professional services, construction, insurance and retailing.

Spending by California’s pistachio industry helped create 55,100 jobs on a full-time equivalent basis in 2022. Grower spending generated more than 27,000 jobs and processor spending generated more than 28,000 jobs.

The new study pegged labor income generated by California growers and processors at nearly $3 billion in 2022. Tootelian said the labor income helped boost other sectors of the economy. Possible purchases with this labor income would equate to $770 million for housing, $373 million for transportation, $282 million for food, or $185 million for healthcare, and even $82 million in charitable cash donations, according to Tootelian’s analysis.

“The money spent by growers and processors spreads throughout the economy, creating business activity down the main streets of towns and cities across the state,” Tootelian said. “The green kernels shaken from California pistachio trees each year produce another kind of green for our economy —- thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in business taxes.”


The data calculated the total indirect business taxes generated as a result of grower and processor spending at more than $230.9 million in 2022, or the equivalent of $632,600 per day. The impact of the industry’s spending generated $98.8 million in sales taxes and $81.3 million in property taxes in 2022, according to the data.

A key driver of this economic boom created by California’s pistachio industry is the surge in bearing acreage from 371,386 acres in 2020 to 446,000 in 2022. “Just the increase in bearing acres of 74,614 acres created additional grower and processor spending of more than $513.8 million on these bearing acres, averaging more than $2.7 million per day,” he said.

“With every economic study of the industry, the numbers keep getting more and more impressive,” said Tootelian. “Every new pistachio seedling planted in our state’s soil turns the key of a powerful economic engine that benefits all Californians, no matter where they live.”

 California produces the lion’s share of the nation’s pistachios —- about 99 percent —- but two southwestern states, Arizona and New Mexico, are making their mark as valuable contributors to the U.S. pistachio industry.

The data for Arizona’s pistachio growers and processors show total expenditures of $92.6 million in 2022, total economic impact of $171.1 million, the creation of more than 1,570 jobs and $70 million in labor income, and more than $5.3 million in indirect business taxes. “Depending on how these funds are used, they can help benefit state and local programs,” Tootelian stated.

For New Mexico, expenditures by growers and processors totaled nearly $3.2 million in 2022, total economic impact was $5.9 million, the industry created 55 jobs and generated nearly $2.5 million in labor income, and the state’s growers and processors created nearly $188,900 in indirect business taxes.

The 2022 study by Dennis Tootelian, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Marketing at CSU-Sacramento, is a follow-up to economic studies conducted for APG in 2017 and 2021. His analyses were conducted for net total expenditures by growers and the net variable expenses of processors. He completed economic impact studies using 2022 data for California, Arizona and New Mexico.

American Pistachio Growers is the non-profit trade association representing more than 865 growers and member processors in California, Arizona, and New Mexico. The 2022 economic impact data for the three states and an infographic with highlights of the Tootelian study for California, Arizona and New Mexico are available at

2023-03-03T08:34:22-08:00March 3rd, 2023|

Pistachio Growers Unite at Industry Annual Conference

Record numbers in attendance as growers assess future challenges and opportunities

By American Pistachio Growers

The next five years for American pistachio growers presents challenges and great opportunity, prompting a call for unity at the industry’s Annual Pistachio Conference, which kicked off March 1 in Carlsbad, CA. More than 1200 attendees—an industry record–from three states participated in the conference, which kicked off with a panel of growers who discussed the next five years, as production ramps up.

A grower panel underscored three topics on growers’ minds: accelerating production of pistachios between 2022 and 2026; keeping doors open to American pistachios in key export markets like India; and ongoing pest battles. They emphasized that, while the three topics present challenges, the industry’s trade association, American Pistachio Growers , has proven efficacy in addressing each issue and there could be tremendous opportunity over the next five years with a united industry.

According to data analyzed by Sacramento economist Dennis H. Tootelian, Ph.D., California growers will produce 6.9 billion pounds of pistachios over the next five years, 2.4 billion more than they produced in the previous five-year period from 2017-2021. APG, as the trade association representing the U.S. industry, has kept pace with building consumer demand for the increased volume in recent years in targeted export markets, which he says has helped to support grower pricing in the face of rapid production. Tootelian showed that in countries where APG focused their marketing efforts, exports have grown 36% a year compared to 17% in countries with no APG marketing emphasis.

Tulare County grower Dominic Pitigliano, past Chair of APG and a grower panelist, said, “Ten years ago, APG identified the export markets with the greatest growth potential and our intense focus on those markets has paid off in building consumer demand.” 

The grower panel discussed India as a prime growth market for U.S. pistachios where continued marketing could boost opportunities in the years ahead. India possesses the market conditions necessary for a growth market — rising population, growing per capita income, and increasing consumption of pistachios.

Tootelian projects that in 2022 consumers in India will consume 272,000 pounds of pistachios per day, and by 2026, they will be buying 410,000 pounds per day.  

APG, which is funded by assessments from growers and government grants, has leveraged those dollars to boost exports and address impediments to trade in the form of tariffs and nontariff barriers. The grower panel underscored the importance of having APG continue to play a strong role to keep the door open in India.

“APG packs a one-two punch in export markets,” said APG Chair, Dennis Woods. “Getting tariffs reduced or eliminated is the first step, followed by marketing programs that enlighten consumers about the health benefits of American pistachios. The strategy works as long as we all work together,” noting the organization has 64 dedicated growers from three states who volunteer on the APG Board and committees. 

While marketing ever larger crops will command the industry’s attention in coming years, so too will challenges that come from the surge in pistachio orchards in California. The Navel Orangeworm (NOW), the major pest threat to pistachios, has been fought with a plethora of tools —- costly inputs, winter sanitation programs, and mating disruption techniques. Tootelian estimated that growers will spend $1.8 billion in total NOW management costs in the next five years.

APG has led the industry effort to use a novel tool in the fight against NOW — a U.S. Department of Agriculture facility in Phoenix that rears sterile Navel Orangeworm moths for aerial distribution over a few thousand acres of pistachios and almonds in Kern County. APG helped to secure $8 million in federal funds for the pilot project, but the USDA has recommended an additional $21 million per year to expand the project. The Phoenix facility was instrumental in rearing sterile pink bollworm moths that led to the successful eradication of the cotton pink bollworm in California in 2018. 

“I know at the very least we can suppress Navel Orangeworm because we had similar success in the cotton industry,” said Ted Sheely, a pistachio and cotton grower who chairs the NOW Action Committee, the industry advisory committee that government requires in such situations. “We need to continue to push hard for the $21 million per year that will be required to keep the Arizona facility going and expand the program to the extent that we need it. Navel Orangeworm
is an industry-wide concern, and we need APG to secure the funding to support this program.”

“APG’s leadership has envisioned the future and how we should position the industry for success,” said APG President Richard Matoian. “As the industry’s trade association, we need every grower to participate in APG in order to fund our ability to make our future plans reality. We’ve done a good job so far, and we’re optimistic about the next five years.”

2022-03-03T10:46:35-08:00March 3rd, 2022|

Snow and Rain Great, But Regulations Continue for Growers

Richard Matoian: Regulations, Cost of Production Impact Growers

As we enter the winter months of the year after this production season of pistachios, we’re wondering what’s on the growers’ minds.

“I think the focus of growers in more recent times have been all that they’re having to deal with to grow a crop, harvest a crop and successfully market that crop,” Richard Matoian is President of American Pistachio Growers. It has a lot to do with input costs, whether it be water or labor, or fertilizer or other inputs.”

“It has to do with regulatory situations that are impacting the grower’s ability to effectively grow and harvest their crop, and it has to also do with what the future looks like for any one of the commodities.

And in the case of pistachios, we have more and more acres going into production, more and more crop to sell, and we need to make sure that we develop these export markets. “Because the vast majority are 60%-70% of pistachios are exported around the world,” said Matoian.

“In order for growers to be successful, they’re having to deal with all that they deal with in a given year, we need to help them be successful in the marketing side by developing new markets,” noted Matoian.

And besides the need for new markets, one of the big stressors for growers is having enough water to provide for their crops. So far, this winter, there is record snowfall and substantial rain.

2022-01-04T10:36:42-08:00January 4th, 2022|
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