October 4, 2013

Off-Year Pistachio Production

Much Less than Expected

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The U.S. Pistachio industry, which includes mostly California, but also Arizona and New Mexico is about to harvest nearly one hundred million pounds less than what was expected earlier this year.

Richard Matoian
Richard Matoian, executive director of the Fresno-based American Pistachio Growers told California Ag Today that the current subjective estimate by the Administrative Committee for Pistachios, the industry's Federal Marketing Order, is 450 to 475 million pounds.

“We had thought that we would be producing 550 million pounds this season and it’s based on two things,” noted Matoian. “First, last season’s on-year crop was not as large as we thought when it came in at 555 million pounds—a record crop. Secondly we were anticipating all the new acres that would be bearing this year.”

“But there was a prolonged hot spell during the summer, which produced a smaller-sized nut, which means less weight,” Matoian said. “And there are also reports of higher than normal blanking---greater than 20 percent. In addition there were less nuts per tree."

Fewer Nuts Per Cluster were observed this year.
Less volume in a tremendously high demand crop tends to raise prices, which is good for growers. However there may be shortages of crops, which will mean some customers may not get what they expect in volume.

“We would rather have a moderate and profitable price instead of high spikes,” said Matoian. “On top of that, we want a good supply for our customer base as well as our expanding base.”

“There may be an issue of allocation for all of our customers, and we are disappointed that we will not be able to expand our markets as we have planned,” he noted. “It’s critical that we expand our markets because we know we have big crops coming.”

A short crop limits the opportunities of marketing and promoting pistachios around the world.  “We were hoping to increase business in countries such as Korea and Vietnam, but a shorter crop will hinder us in expanding out,” Matoian said.

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