September 2012 Pecan Crop and Market Update

September 26, 2012

Last week the National Pecan Sheller’s Association ended their annual meeting with their estimate of the upcoming Pecan crop.  At 309 million pounds (inshell basis), their estimate was the highest of the pre-harvest crop estimates.  Averaging their estimate with those of the Tri-State and Texas Growers, and barring any natural disasters, the supply situation shapes up as follows:

2011 Carry-Out (estimate)


US Crop (Av. of TX/Tri State/NPSA Estimates)


Mexican Imports (Av. of FAS & Market News)


Total Supply (estimate)  


*The above figures do not include production in Australia and South Africa the bulk of which is consumed in the respective countries or exported to China.

In early September, the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) released their 2012 final import and export figures for the 2011 crop.  They also reissued corrections for their 2011 report (2010 crop). There was good news and bad news in the release.  First, the updated 2010 Crop data has been refined even more than their original corrections.  However, while the quantities shipped and pricing paid for inshell appear to be correct, it would still appear that they have not figured out the problem with the sales data received from the Census Bureau regarding the average meat (shelled product) prices paid.  Their published data shows an average price well below $6/lb while there was no time during the 2010 crop year where meat prices were below $6/lb. Actual average prices were probably above $6.50/lb.  The problem appears to carry over into the 2011 crop year published data (their 2012 report).

The good news is that for the 2011 crop year, total exports were up approximately 16% over the prior year. This is primarily due to the weakness of the US dollar. The country with the biggest gain was China with an increase in exports of just under 44% over the 2010 crop year.  In 2011, China accounted for 42% of all US Pecan exports. The bad news; total exports were still down 5.5% over the 2009 crop year record highs and China was still down 17.5% over the same period. 

Sifting through the data, it would appear that the increase in exports came at the expense of domestic consumption.  Since 2009, total consumption has dropped 15.5%. Crop year 2011 total consumption was down 6.4% from 2010.  Since 2009, domestic consumption has been anemic at best.  While 2011 US consumption was down 17.4% over 2010, since 2009, US consumption has dropped by 21.5%.  This drop in the industry’s core consumption can be directly traced to the record high prices of the past two years.  However, based on Friday’s Cold Storage release, it would appear that the recent weakness in the Pecan market, and the corresponding lower prices, has started to have an impact on consumption as August 2012 shipments were up 100% over the same period last year.  With both Walnut and Almond prices climbing dramatically, and if prices remain at or near current spot prices, the Pecan industry could see a significant uptick in shipments as domestic, as well as foreign buyers, switch back to Pecans.  I hope to post graphs of the above data in downloadable PDF format on the Statistics Page of my website ( sometime in the next few days.

In the meantime, it would appear that the Pecan crop is running a few weeks ahead of last year.  Early varieties, primarily used to satisfy the Chinese inshell market, are already being harvested and shipped. With many within the industry expecting a record ‘off-year’ crop, there should be sufficient supplies to handle the anticipated increase in consumption.