Promoting Pistachio Consumption

 

Increasing Marketing Efforts Ahead of the Billion Pound Pistachio Crop

By Patrick Cavanaugh, with the AgInformation Network

American Pistachio Growers are mounting a full court press to market the big crop.

And the APG Marketing team is aware that more families are preparing meals at home due to COVID pandemic so they organized five interact webinars with famous chefs for food writers and other influential people. All webinars featured famous chefs.

Rick Kreps is a new pistachio grower in Eastern Madera County, and he was featured in a video with Chef Wolfgang Puck for audiences in Germany and the US.

“I think they got excited about having someone as excited as I am to have the first crop actually come in after all six years of labor and blood, sweat, and tears to get to market, and then have someone like Wolfgang Puck taking your product and turning it into something special that everyone loves to eat,” said Kreps.

“It’s exciting to drum up some excitement and get more people cooking with pistachios,” said Kreps. “You know, pistachios have been used for centuries in Mediterranean cuisine, but for the most part, it was just kind of a luxury snack in the U S and now that we’ve got production this year, hopefully we’re going to get a billion pounds, we want to let the public know that there’s enough nuts to go out and eat. And it’s not just a luxury nut item, but a healthy snack.”

“Pistachios should be not an alternative, but probably your go-to snack and ingredient item. And especially the fact that we know pistachios have the complete proteins, or it is the most complete protein of any nut. I think people feel a lot better about not only eating a snack, that’s delicious, but also very good for you,” Kreps’s said.

Full Court Press to Market Big Pistachio Crop

American Pistachio Growers Expands Marketing Efforts Ahead of Expected Record 2020 Crop

 

Trade organization pulls out stops with virtual harvest event and chef cook-alongs

 

American Pistachio Growers (APG) is mounting a full-court press to market the expected one-billion-pound harvest that is now filling bins in processing facilities. APG’s strategy includes a virtual harvest tour in California’s San Joaquin Valley and a schedule of live, interactive cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs catering to food writers and industry influencers in the U.S. as well as in six other countries.

This unique agricultural virtual tour will take participants from the pistachio orchards of California’s San Joaquin Valley into the kitchens of some of the most celebrated chefs in the country. The harvest segment features grower Rich Kreps, of LARK Farms in Madera, California, as he witnesses his first-ever harvest.

“Watching those delicious nuts falling out of our trees and into the catch frames was a literal dream finally realized. We were truly elated when it all came together in our first harvest,” said Kreps. “After five years of labor and investment in these pistachio orchards, we are finally seeing our first paycheck.”

APG has assembled an All-Star line-up of celebrity chefs who will make U.S.-grown pistachios the star of their dishes. Wolfgang Puck, Nancy Silverton, Gerald Hirigoyen and Martin Yan will guide journalists in the U.S., China, France, Germany, India, Italy and Spain through live, interactive cook-alongs via Zoom. The Zoom events are limited to journalists only. The schedule of chef events runs from Nov. 12 through Nov. 25.

“Our growers have done their part, producing the world’s largest supply of quality pistachios in history. It’s our job at American Pistachio Growers to generate consumer demand around the world,” said Judy Hirigoyen, APG Vice President, Global Marketing. “Given the large number of confirmed journalists we have for these events, we will likely make this an ongoing series.”

Exports of U.S. pistachios are essential to the economic health of the industry as, on average, about 70 percent of the U.S. crop is sold in overseas markets. While growers in three states of California, Arizona and New Mexico are expected to harvest a record crop in 2020, growers in Iran are expected to harvest about 484 million pounds, less than half of the projected U.S. production, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

“There’s no bigger time of year than now as American pistachio growers bring in their 2020 harvest, so we created this virtual event to give agricultural reporters, food writers, and other food industry professionals the red carpet treatment to follow pistachios from the orchard to the kitchen,” Hirigoyen said.

Hirigoyen said pistachios have become a highly popular food due to their nutrient-dense, high protein content. Home cooks and professional chefs, alike, have embraced pistachios because of their growing reputation as a healthy, nutritious food for active lifestyles. Earlier this year, pistachios earned status as a “complete protein,” joining other plant proteins such as quinoa, chickpeas and soybeans. In July, a university study underscored the importance of pistachios as part of weight loss programs.

“Our marketing team is keenly aware that more and more families are preparing meals at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and attention is now focused on holiday meal planning in the coming weeks,” said Hirigoyen. “We’re excited to add these unique marketing elements to raise consumer awareness to the large U.S. crop and to the fact that in addition to their popularity as a snack food, pistachios are playing a bigger role in home-prepared recipes, on restaurant menus, and in a growing list of consumer food items.”

 

 

Pistachio Industry Stellar!

Pistachio Industry is Solid on Production and Pricing

By Patrick Cavanaugh, with Ag Infomation Network

Mark Sherrell is the Chief Operating Officer for Touchstone Pistachio Co, a family-owned pistachio growing and processing operation located in California’s Central San Joaquin Valley.

“We’re looking at the largest global supply ever. We’re also looking at the largest American supply of pistachios and pricing remains pretty firm at $3.70 to three $3.75 a pound,” said Sherrell. “Quality of the crop looks really good and we look forward to a good shipping season,” he said.

And Touchtone is building a new pistachio processing plant.

“The new Touchdown Pistachio plant will incorporate state-of-the-art automation, efficiencies, color, sorting, electronic sorting, x-ray technology, roasting and salting, and will be the most modern plant built to date,” he said. “It’s all about producing quality products for the customers in an efficient manner.”

And of course, when you build a plant food, safety is top of mind.

“Yes, it is one of the great things about Touchdown is that it’s a Greenfield-built plant, and we’re able to design a plant around food safety rather than design a food safety plan around a plant. So we feel that we have a huge upside in being able to design a facility that incorporates food safety at every level,” Sherrell said.

Pollination Issues on 2020 Pistachio Crop?

Possible Pollination Issues That May Affect the 2020 Pistachio Crop

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh as Reported on the AgInformation Network of the West

Richard Matoian is Executive Director of the American Pistachio Growers Association based in Fresno.

“I’ve heard from some growers that there appears to be some uneven growth in the pollenization aspect from the male trees. The females came out when they did, it was the males that some trees came out normally within the orchard and yet other trees were held back a little bit,” explained Matoian.

“And the question is, was that a lack of chill hours or was that just some seasonal or springtime abnormality as those trees were pushing out? And so that remains to be the question,” Matoian said. “And so as a result, what I’ve heard is that some orchards, particularly on the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley, do not appear to have as large a crop as they had expected them to have. The thinking is there was just maybe some cool weather, right when the trees were starting to bloom,” he said

He said there was a string of rainy and cold weather. “And maybe that through the trees back into a little bit of a shock of sorts and it’s just hard to tell what exactly it was,” Matoian said. “Everyone believes that going into the year there was enough chill hours.”

Will that affect a billion pound prediction of this year? Time will tell.

Pistachio Extracts Found to Have Anti-Viral, and Anti-Biotic Power

Antimicrobial Effects of U.S. Pistachio Extracts Shown to Prevent Growth of Bacteria and Viruses 

Initial findings point to extracts’ potential role in the development of novel medical treatments

 

Once just a snack, pistachios possess extracts that have been shown to stop the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, Listeria and Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) — important findings amid growing antibiotics resistance and the increased need for new medical treatments.

In a study published this month in Plants1, researchers at the University of Messina in Italy discovered that polyphenols, health protective compounds found in plant foods, from pistachios grown in the United States have antiviral effects on HSV-1 and can, at their highest concentration, result in the complete reduction of the virus in lab settings.

Given these results, researchers concluded that pistachio extracts could become great candidates for the development of novel topical or oral drug formulations for the treatment of HSV-1 infections either alone or in combination with standard antiviral therapies.

Previously, University of Messina researchers and researchers from the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, UK, also found that polyphenol-rich extracts from pistachios have a strong bactericidal effect against Gram positive bacteria, including many clinical strains of the disease-causing Staphylococcus Aureus, MRSA strains and Listeria monocytogenes2,3, which could prove helpful in food safety applications or as a topical treatment for S. aureus (MRSA).

 

Both Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) are responsible for a range of skin, respiratory and bone joint infections, endocarditis, bacteremia and toxic shock syndrome. HSV-1 causes oral herpes and is generally responsible for cold sores and fever blisters around the mouth and on the face.

 

The Plants study highlighted that cultures were infected with the HSV-1 virus and treated with different concentrations of pistachio extract. The highest concentration of the extract resulted in the total reduction of the virus. In earlier studies, researchers prepared polyphenol rich extracts from roasted and raw pistachios. These extracts were tested on a number of bacterial cultures to determine their bactericidal strength. Staphylococcus aureus and L. monocytogenes were the most susceptible strains.

“Pistachio extracts could provide a novel topical or oral treatment against HSV-1 infections (Herpes simplex), as well as a novel strategy to overcome problems related to drug-resistant strains,” said University of Messina’s, Dr. Giuseppina Mandalari. “Researchers are optimistic that the bactericidal activity of pistachio extracts could be used to help control the growth of some microorganisms in foods potentially leading to improved food safety and as an application for the topical treatment of Staph. aureus.”

Further studies are needed to confirm that results from recent studies can be translated in a clinical setting with humans, and while this research continues to explore the potential for concentrated pistachio extracts in pharmaceutical applications, snacking on whole pistachios can make a beneficial contribution to health, since pistachios are high in copper and manganese, and a source of selenium, zinc, riboflavin and vitamin E, which contribute to the protection of cells from oxidative stress. Pistachios are also high in vitamin B6 and a source of folate and iron which contribute to normal function of the immune system.

Traditional medicines based mostly on medicinal plants have been used for the treatment of various diseases by mankind for centuries, but plants can also be rich sources of biologically active compounds. The antibacterial properties of plant-derived compounds continue to be explored, mainly in view of increased antibiotic resistance both in community-acquired infections and those acquired in hospitals and healthcare settings. As more disease-causing bacteria become resistant to usual treatments, researchers will continue to look to new sources for medicines.

 

Mating Disruption For NOW Works

Trials Show that Mating Disruption Works Well to Offset NOW Damage

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Mating disruption for navel orangeworm works. David Haviland is a UCANR, farm advisor, Kern County. “We all know navel orangeworm is not a simple pest to control and it takes an integrated pest management approach. We know the base of that sanitation—getting rid of all the mummies in the winter to make sure that we reset the clock when navel orangeworm comes back in the spring,” noted Haviland.

“We know that the earlier you harvest, the better you’re going to be. So early and timely harvest is going to help. We know insecticides helped. They’ve been around a while and they’re effective and, certainly, people are using them,” said Haviland. “At the same time, those three things alone don’t always control the pest to the level you need. And that’s where mating disruption can come in as the other leg on the IPM chair.”

Haviland has tested the mating disruption products. Currently, there are three different groups of products registered. There are the aerosol products that releases pheromone throughout at certain intervals throughout the season. The second group, what we call the Meso emitter, that’s a rubber strip that’s hung in the trees that passively releases the pheromone all year and the third group, which is new, is as a sprayable pheromone. It’s one that you put in the tank and you spray it along with an insecticide or fungicide.

“In 2017 trials the big take-home message this that all three of the aerosol products were effective. They all work well, as does the Meso emitter, so all those work about the same,” noted Haviland.

In 2017/2018 Haviland had larger trials that confirmed their previous results. “The earlier trial showed a 40 to 50% reduction in damage, while the later trial on larger acreage showed a 60 to 70% reduction in damage, which was a positive return on investment to the grower,” he said.  In 2018, Haviland conducted the first UC trial on sprayable pheromone products.  They did not work very well.

Orchard Sanitation Will Reduce Navel Orange Worm

Sanitation is Foundation of Navel Orange Worm Pressure

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Now that almonds and pistachios are harvested there is needed break on the farm. But soon it is recommended by experts that orchard sanitation is needed to remove any mummy nuts from the trees to reduce to reduce Navel Orange Worm next year

Joel Siegel is a USDA ARS entomologists and Parlier in Fresno County

“Yes, and again, in a perfect world, if everybody could sanitize perfectly, you could argue there’d be very little need for spraying because there wouldn’t be any navel orange worm,” Siegel said. “The reality is far uglier than that. We’re dealing with difficulties and getting into the orchard because of weather. And again, people have to make that commitment towards sanitation and the cost has gone up. So I’m hearing talk of $300 per acre and higher. So again, people have to factor that their worlds has changed,” he said.

Sanitation is a numbers game. The higher the population at the beginning of the season, the higher the damage expected at the end of the season. The most effective way to reduce overwintering populations of navel orange worm is sanitation. For every mummy left on the tree, that’s equal to its percent damage. One mummy nut, 1% damaged, five mummy nuts per tree, that’s 5% damage. So the ultimate goal is to leave less than one mummy nut per tree, and then those nuts must be removed from the orchard or disced into the ground.

Nichols Farms Launches New Packaging

Nichols New Design Focuses on Family Heritage and Premium Quality Pistachios

 Now four generations strong, Nichols Farms announced today that the family-owned company is introducing a new packaging design, rolling out this fall to stores across the country.

The new look is unmistakably different than other package designs in the category, featuring a signature brown bag with an artisan style. In addition, Nichols Farms has created matching free-standing displays to support incremental sales for retailers.

“A passion for farming runs deep in our family,” says Chuck Nichols, owner and second generation at Nichols Farms. “My father started farming decades ago in the heart of California’s farmland, and I’m so proud that the company has remained true to its roots – putting people first and taking good care of the land. This new packaging design reflects that commitment.”

Caring for people is engrained in the company’s culture. Some of the highlights every year are the Nichols Farms Scholarship Program and the many community outreach initiatives, which include a food drive for the local Food Link organization. “Our team members are the heart of our community outreach,” says owner Susie Nichols. “When there’s a need, they rise to the occasion. I’m very proud to call them our extended family.” This past year, the company’s 400-plus team members donated more than 9,000 cans of food.

Environmental stewardship is also a key priority for the Nichols Family:

  • A six-acre solar farm provides power to the production facility.
  • 100% of the water used during the pistachio harvest is recycled.
  • Pistachio hulls are used for natural compost and fertilizer.
  • 100% of Nichols Farms’ orchards use drip irrigation, helping to conserve a significant amount of water.

Generic Promotion of US Pistachios is Powerful

New Analysis Points to the Power of US Pistachio Industry’s Generic Program

American Pistachio Growers’ (APG) efforts to reduce or eliminate trade barriers in several key overseas markets have been a significant boon to pistachio exports and to growers’ bottom-line. A new study, “An Analysis of the Effects of the American Pistachio Growers’ Program to Reduce/Eliminate Tariffs on U.S. Pistachios,” has quantified, for the first time, the direct benefit to the U.S. pistachio industry from APG’s strategic program to vanquish trade barriers.

The analysis from Dr. Dennis H. Tootelian, an emeritus Professor of Marketing, sought to determine what shipments of U.S. pistachios would have been if tariffs had not been lowered or eliminated in Israel, Mexico, China and Hong Kong, and the European Union which are the export markets prioritized for focus by APG. Many of his analyses centered on the period from 2009 through 2017 — the period in which tariffs were reduced in all five geographic areas.

Tootelian’s study showed that actual shipments of U.S. pistachios after the tariffs were reduced or eliminated for each export market were more than 2.3 billion pounds greater than what would have been expected had the tariffs remained in place. Equated in economic terms, the boost in export volume after the trade barriers had been removed amounted to nearly $3 billion greater value than what would have been expected had the tariffs remained in effect.

While Tootelian did not have any prior expectations of what his study would show, he was surprised by the findings.

“To see this kind of an increase in shipments on a before and after basis with the tariffs did surprise me. I did not expect this kind of result in the marketplace. These are not small numbers,” Tootelian said.   “What the data tell me is that there is latent demand for U.S. pistachios and once the tariffs come down, foreign markets want to buy them.”

Tootelian said the projected economic boon to U.S. growers is even more profound if the fluctuations in prices in China and Hong Kong were eliminated from the analysis.

“If you take the price fluctuations in China and Hong Kong out, the increase in value of pistachio shipments amounts to nearly $355 million more dollars per year — nearly $4.5 billion in total from the time when tariffs were in effect to after they were reduced or eliminated,” said Tootelian.

Data from the analysis estimated that more than 1.7 billion pounds of U.S. pistachios in total, or an average of more than 192 million pounds annually, may have gone into storage if they were not diverted to other markets. While the effect of the projected added supply on the world market is unknown in terms of lower prices, Tootelian said that it would surely have had a detrimental impact on U.S. growers.

“It is unknown what that would have done to the price,” he said. “In order to divert from storage and into other markets, prices probably would have had to come down considerably and whether they would have been able to market that much supply is an unknown.”

Underlying Tootelian’s analysis is the fact that price is not the sole determinant of the volume of U.S. pistachio exports. He said when tariffs are lowered or eliminated, traditional economics would dictate that increased shipments would lead to lower prices, but his data show demand for U.S. pistachios in some key markets remained high in the post-tariff era.  Several factors, he said, appear to be in play.

“One is the reputation of U.S. pistachios, which carries a very positive market image with consumers and importers. Second, it could be the quality of the product is better or more consistent, or both, for what consumers can buy from other countries,” said Tootelian. “And third, there are a lot of reputable health studies that show nuts are healthy and nutritious.  APG has invested considerable resources raising consumer awareness of the healthful attributes of pistachios, and consumers appear to be willing to pay a higher price. That is pretty clear from the data.”

APG has aggressively worked in the halls of Congress, with U.S. trade officials and with foreign governmental bodies to alleviate burdensome trade barriers and create a more open market for U.S-grown pistachios.

“Quantifying the value of APG’s efforts to growers has been difficult up to now, but this new study gives us some tangible answers to the importance of the work we are doing on behalf of the U.S. pistachio industry,” said Richard Matoian, APG’s executive director. “Frankly, we were quite surprised at the magnitude of these numbers.  It’s our strong belief that whenever and wherever trade barriers exist to the free flow of American-grown pistachios around the world, we will confront them vigorously.”

In a postscript to his analysis, Tootelian added, “If I were a grower, I would be encouraging APG to be doing this more in other markets because the greater the demand there is for the product, the less goes into storage and that helps boost the price.”

 

Madera County Ag Economy is Booming

Madera County Has Big Ag Job Base

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Madera County’s financial future is booming. David Rogers, a Madera County supervisor, is excited to know that Madera County is the fastest and number one growing ag economy in the United States.

“I represent most of the farming, and Madera County, which is the fastest growing our economy in the U.S. and has been for the last three and a half, four years,” Rogers said.

Madera County
David Rogers, Madera County Supervisor

Madera  is a business-friendly county.

“We’ve been number one in small jobs, manufacturing growth for the last nine years in a row, and all of that is ancillary to agriculture,” he said.

Pistachios and almonds have aided in Madera County’s financial growth.

“Some of those orchards that were planted five years ago are going to mean big revenue,” Rogers said.

Expansions to the Triangle T System have aided in the conveyance.

“The expansions were in wide areas, and conveyance is so critical to that,” Rogers explained.

There is also a new tunnel system that goes under the river for delivery.

“There was a lot of money that went into developing their system, and it’s paying off big time. I believe it’s almost 50,000 acres. It was 30,000 originally, I think, and it’s expanding more all the time,” Rogers said.

He also commented on the need for proper forest management that will allow more water into the system.

“One of the most important things that we can do right now is continue to emphasize forest management because that is a source of more water,” he said. The better the management, the faster the forests can return to a healthy state. With a healthier forest, that means more water in the system and more water in our ground.