The American Pecan Council convenes the Pecan Industry's first-ever Pecan Congress

April 11, 2019

For the better part of the past fifty years, the pecan industry has struggled to find its identity.  Unlike the almond and walnut industries where both grower and processor shared common geography, labor costs, environmental laws, etc., the pecan industry, due to its geographic reach, was shackled by many of those same issues.  Further, unlike its California competitors where early cooperatives fueled the economic engine that propelled those industries to world prominence, the fragmented and disparate pecan industry, lacking a unified goal and the leadership necessary to provide it with one, struggled. Further, regional infighting among the various Grower organizations as well as a Hatfield-McCoy type feud between Shellers and Growers, further eroded the industry’s ability to move forward.  However, that changed two years ago when the Growers voted to create the American Pecan Council (APC).  While not the industry’s first attempt to establish a marketing order, it was what many viewed as the industry’s last best chance to change course. While there have been fits and starts, this past Tuesday afternoon, the APC accomplished what no one else has; it convened the industry’s first ever Industry Pecan Congress. Nineteen of the industry’s twenty-two State, Regional and National Organizations sent representatives to discuss the issues most impacting their constituents and to hear what the APC was doing to move the pecan industry forward.  Growers and Shellers alike calmly discussed how to best address current problems, what needed to be done to move the industry forward and to hear how the APC intended to lead.

For those unable to attend, I am sure that both the Georgia Pecan Grower and Pecan South will have extensive coverage of the meeting in their next issue as both were well represented.  While there are still those out there who question where their assessments are going, I would like to list just a few:

  1. The launch of the industry’s first branded marketing program, ‘American Pecans, The Original Supernut’ with advertisements in most major US markets and a live segment on Good Morning America.
  2. The establishment of working committees to develop new, updated inshell and shelled kernel standards, a unified industry export marketing strategy, a new industry data collection and reporting tab on the APC website to allow handlers to submit reports and pay assessments electronically, nutrition research, a product shelf-life study of both inshell and shelled kernels, digital mapping of every production area in the US with the express goal of collecting crop production data and acreage with the latest satellite and drone technology, the establishment of clear channels of communication with USDA NASS and USDA FAS with the express purpose of improving data collection and the establishment of a forum to discuss import, export and quality issues with Mexico, South Africa, Australia and China.
  3. The establishment of collaborative efforts with key industry organizations, universities, etc., to leverage expertise from a variety of market influencers with the express purpose of increasing consumption, reducing industry costs and increasing the consumer’s knowledge of pecans.

These are only a few of the things currently being worked on by the APC.  However, the highlight of the meeting was the signing of a contract between the US Pecan Growers Council and the APC putting all of the industry’s international marketing efforts under the auspices of the APC; the same as the almond and walnut industries.  This will save the industry hundreds of thousands of dollars in administrative costs, streamline the application process for USDA FAS funding, and for the first time, allow the industry to speak with one voice while achieving synergies of expertise and knowledge difficult to achieve before. Not only will this benefit every segment of our industry, it will benefit our customers and consumers.  Based on the response of the various industry representatives, this will not be the last congress.

In closing, it is oft said that the longest journey begins with a single step. Well, this past Tuesday the pecan industry took a giant one.