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With a new federal marketing order, can pecans become the next ‘it’ nut?

From Food Navigator USA

The USDA approved a federal marketing order (FMO) for the pecan industry earlier this year, enabling the industry to collect mandatory dues that will go towards marketing and research efforts for US pecans. In August 2016, the industry started the nomination process for members of a new American Pecan Council, which will decide how the funds will be used.

Bruce Caris, chairman of the National Pecan Shellers Association, says that the pecan industry was more scattered throughout the country. While an overwhelming majority of domestic pistachios, walnuts, and almonds are grown in California (about 95%, Caris estimated), pecans are grown in 15 different states.

Despite its niche place globally as Caris described, there is growing demand for pecans overseas. “Prior to 2000, China had never imported more than a million pounds of pecans in the shell. Two years ago they bought almost 98 million pounds of in-shell pecans from the US. For this past crop year it would probably be close to 60 million — China alone is buying 20 to 30% of the US crop,” he said. There, Caris explained, consumers like their tree-nuts in shells, because it seems fresher to them.

But beyond being sold plainly as a nut, Caris noted innovation in other applications. “I would say over the past three years we’ve seen several pecan nut butters getting started. I know of two companies who sometime in the next month will launch pecan milk,” he added. “And inclusion in cereals and snack bars have taken off in the past five years, both here as well as in Europe and Asia, Japan in particular.”

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