While Pecan Shipments Continue to be Good, US Domestic Consumption Continues to Fall

April 04, 2017

On Thursday, March 23, 2017, the National Pecan Sheller’s Association estimated the 2016 US Pecan Crop to be 286.7 million pounds (inshell basis).  Based on their figures, this is how the US supply shapes up:

2016 Carry-In                                           130,007,180

2016 US Crop (NPSA est.)                       286,725,000

Net Mexican Imports (NPSA est.)          190,000,000

Total (estimate)                                        606,732,180*

*Note: Net 2015 Total Supply – 561.8 million pounds

While shipments continue to be strong, the use of Mexican contract shellers to meet demand has dropped dramatically.  Last year US Shellers sent approximately 30 million pounds of inshell across the border for shelling.  To date, that figure is only 6.2 million pounds.

Shipments from Mexico continue to be running ahead of last year with 187.3 million pounds (gross figure) having crossed the border.  Assuming that total US inshell exports (2016 crop) to Mexico will be around 8 million pounds, NET imports from Mexico should exceed last year’s record net of approximately 186.1 million pounds.

As has been the case for most of this year, US exports continue to be ahead of last year.  Based on today’s FAS release, shipments worldwide are up 21.7 million pounds.  Shipments to China are up 22.1 million pounds; in other words, all of the increase is due to China.  Most interesting is the continued increase in China’s appetite for shelled meats.  While part of the increase is due to the increased use of pecans as an ingredient, much of the increase can be attributed to record inshell prices.  With increased labor costs in China, it is now cheaper to buy US and Mexican shelled meats, to handle the increased ingredient demand, then to bring inshell into China and shell it there.  As long as there continues to be the huge disconnect between inshell and meat prices, this trend can be expected to continue.

Finally, while prices of both almonds and walnuts have firmed in the past few months, there is still a significant price differential between the two and pecans. As a result, consumption continues to move to more competitive options, especially in the US domestic market, resulting in a price drop of approximately $0.50/lb in the price of shelled meats since the highs of December and early January.  As I have said in previous newsletters, the remedy for high prices is high prices.