Lower Import Duties on Pecans in India Could Benefit South African Exporters

Pecan Nut
Published Mar 10, 2023
India will effectively lower the import duty on pecans, from 100% to 30%, as a new reporting system will be implemented on April 1, 2023. However, the challenge of introducing pecans to Indian consumers remains, despite other nuts being wildly popular in the country. The rapidly expanding South African pecan industry could benefit from diversifying into the Indian market, and the tariff reduction is well-timed, occurring a few months before the South African pecan harvest.

In early February, India announced that it would apply HS Code 080299 for pecans, which would effectively lower the import duty from 100% to 30% effective from April 1, 2023. This will provide greater access for pecan nuts to India's market of 1.4 billion people. However, consumers in India are largely unfamiliar with pecans, which presents a challenge in gaining a foothold in the market. Currently, India imports less than 100 mt of pecans annually. Despite this, India's nut consumption has been robust, with nut imports (HS Codes 0801 and 0802) totaling USD 3.4 billion in 2022, up from USD 2.5 billion in 2021. Although cashews and almonds remain the preferred nuts, imports of virtually all nut categories, except for pistachios, have increased. This trend indicates a positive inclination among Indian consumers to include nuts in their diet, making it a good opportunity for pecans to break into the market.

Source: India Ministry of Commerce and Industry

Although the US pecan industry led the campaign for India to lower import duties on pecans, the South African pecan industry could also benefit greatly from gaining access to the Indian market. South Africa is the third-largest pecan producer and exporter in the world, after Mexico and the US. In 2022, it exported 27,250 mt (on an in-shell basis) valued at USD 143 million. 95% of these pecan exports were destined for China which is by far the largest importer of South African nuts. While China is a convenient market for South African exporters due to the large volumes being imported, better prices are often offered in other markets. According to Tridge’s representatives in South Africa, Elton Greeve and Kingsley Nkwane, South African pecan suppliers have been looking to diversify their export markets. Despite the strong demand from China, a general trend for South African nut and fruit producers and exporters has been to look into non-traditional markets. This is being done to mitigate their risk by diversifying their supply chain, following the exposure of several vulnerabilities over the past three years.

However, South Africa has not previously exported pecans to India, except for one metric ton back in 2005, according to data from the South African Revenue Service. Nonetheless, the tariff reduction is well-timed, occurring a few months before the South African pecan harvest, which means that exporters will have substantial inventories available to enter India at the lower tariffs.

Establishing a presence in the Indian market would greatly benefit the rapidly expanding South African pecan industry. More than 5 million new trees have been planted since 2010, and production is set to increase for at least the next decade. Pecan trees, like most nut trees, take up to 7 years to bear significant yields, and as these trees mature, production is projected to increase. In 2022, a particularly favorable growing season resulted in a remarkable 66% increase in production, with 31,846 mt (in-shell) of pecans harvested. With more trees set to come into production in 2023 and favorable conditions, the size of the crop will become clear in the coming months, but another bumper crop is expected. The South African Pecan Nut Producers Association (SAPPA) anticipates that production will exceed 40,000 mt within the next three years. All of this makes it an opportune time for South African pecan exporters to enter the Indian market.

Source: SAPPA


Several countries adopted HS Code 080299: Nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled (excl. coconuts, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, filberts, walnuts, chestnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, kola nuts, areca nuts and pine nuts) for reporting pecan nut trade, on the first day of 2022. Previously pecan trade was reported under HS code 080290: Nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled (excluding coconuts, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, filberts, walnuts, chestnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, kola nuts and areca nuts), which is still used in some countries, including India. Pecan nut trade can fall under both HS codes, and not all countries using the HS system made the switch.

As a result, pecan imports to India have been subject to high import duties of 100%, along with an additional 10% Social Welfare Surcharge, under HS code 080290. However, starting from the Indian 2023/24 financial year, which kicks off on the 1st of April, pecan nuts will have a unique HS code for imports to India, and reporting will be done under HS Code 08029900: Pecan nuts with effectively applied tariffs of only 30%.

The US pecan industry and its representatives have campaigned for several years to reduce import duties for pecans. These efforts intensified throughout 2022 and bore fruit after the Indian annual Union Budget announcement on February 1. According to the USDA FAS in New Delhi, the tariff reduction is expected to increase the value of US pecan exports to India from USD 1.3 million in 2021 to USD 2-5 million.

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