The United States (US) pistachio harvest is in full swing, with expectations that all previous production records will be smashed. Cooler weather early in the growing season has led to the slower maturation of pistachios. The harvest, which normally occurs between late August and early October, has been delayed for about two weeks this year. Conditions were mostly favorable throughout the growing season despite the slow start. Over the last month, very little rain has fallen over pistachio-growing areas, resulting in the ideal harvest weather. Early reported yields are satisfactory, with a good quality crop expected.
The current crop estimate by the American Pistachio Growers (APG) is for 1.3 billion pounds (lbs) (590,000 metric tons) on an in-shell basis. An upward revision is seen as more probable, with minimal chances for a decrease in the estimate. Many in the industry anticipate this number to rise, with some forecasts already suggesting a total of 1.36 billion lbs.
In the 2022/23 season, exports reached a remarkable 652 million lbs, marking the third consecutive year of record-breaking exports. Europe has traditionally been a stable export market for the US, averaging 184 million lbs over the last five years. Asia and the Middle East, which had market shares of 42% and 21% in US exports for 2022/23, are much more dependent on production in Iran and Türkiye. Nut consumption in the Middle East has proven to be price sensitive, with consumption increasing significantly over the last two years at lower prices.
Source: Administrative Committee for Pistachios (ACP)
With both Iran and Türkiye anticipating substantial crops in 2023, the US may face challenges in retaining its market share. Historically, China, the primary Asian buyer, has preferred Iranian pistachios over the US, especially when Iran boasts a larger crop. Similarly, the Middle East might lean towards Iranian and Turkish pistachios due to reduced transportation costs and proximity. A clear inverse relationship exists between Iran and Türkiye’s production and US exports to the Middle East. As global production is projected to hit around 1.033 million metric tons in 2023, the US will need a robust marketing strategy to compete effectively. US pistachios are being heavily promoted in Europe, China, and emerging importer, Mexico. US exports to Mexico increased from 6.403 million lbs five years ago to 16.790 million lbs in 2022/23.
Source: APG, Iran Pistachio Association, International Nut and Dried Fruit Council
Pre-season Supply and Demand Estimates
The US has marked three successive years of record exports, significantly aided by subpar crops in Iran and Türkiye over the last two seasons. Achieving another record-breaking export year may be challenging, and numbers are anticipated to fall below those of 2022/23. While domestic consumption hasn't matched the peak levels of 2021/22, a consistent upward trend is evident. Historical data suggests a modest rise in domestic shipments, whereas export shipments might decline compared to 2022/23.
Source: ACP, Tridge