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Blue Diamond Growers expands processing capacity

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SACRAMENTO, CA – Blue Diamond Growers, a nonprofit grower-owned cooperative and the world’s leading processor and marketer of almonds, marked its 110-year anniversary today with announcements about the completion of two key infrastructure expansions.

The company also was recently recognized by Boston Consulting Group & IRI as one of the Top 10 Fastest Growing Mid-Size CPGs for the fourth consecutive year.

As part of Blue Diamond’s® long-range strategic vision, two major expansions at the co-op’s facilities in the heart of California’s Central Valley almond growing region, have been completed or are nearing completion this month. Groundbreaking ceremonies for both projects were held last year. The first expansion is a 52,000 square foot addition to the existing 200,000 square foot Turlock manufacturing plant that first opened in 2013 and sits on 88 acres. In 2014, Food Engineering Magazine recognized the Turlock facility as Plant of the Year for innovation, manufacturing excellence and sustainable operations. Construction completed on the new building last week expands Blue Diamond’s value- added almond processing capabilities with an automated factory that features state-of-the art handling, processing and packaging equipment. This expansion also provides space for a future manufacturing line to support current business or new innovations.

The second expansion is the new Bulk 8 Warehouse at the Salida facility that originally opened as an almond receiving station in 1969. Today the 675,000 square foot facility sits on 44 acres and includes a retail Nut & Gift Shop. The new 58,000 square foot bulk storage facility is on schedule to be completed by the end of May providing an additional 50 million pounds of in-house bulk almond storage capacity in time to receive the 2020 almond harvest. The 65-foot-tall building includes advanced design with an automated gravity fed spiral conveyance system that improves grower delivery efficiency and reduces damage to the almonds.

“It is particularly meaningful for Blue Diamond to be able to commemorate our Founders Day today by not only recognizing our humble beginnings 110 years ago, but also celebrating two key growth milestones that help secure our future,” said Mark Jansen, President and CEO for Blue Diamond Growers. “I couldn’t be more proud that, despite the unprecedented challenges businesses around the world have faced over the past two months, our incredible team has been able to sustain operations as an essential food supplier, while completing these critical expansion projects ahead of schedule to meet customer needs.“

“When we opened each of Blue Diamond’s three main facilities, we made a commitment to invest in our infrastructure, in our workforce, and in the individual communities where our employees and almond growers live and work. Throughout the year, we support local nonprofits through our community grants, sponsorships, employee volunteerism and product donations. During yesterday’s global Giving Tuesday Now effort I’m thrilled to report that Blue Diamond, along with partners Union Pacific and Sun-Maid Growers of California, committed to a donation match of $50,000 to help support three food banks in northern and central California that are struggling to meet significant demand from local families in need.”

Blue Diamond Growers was founded by a handful of California almond growers on May 6, 1910. Originally known as the California Almond Growers Exchange, the grower-owned cooperative quickly grew into the world leader in growing, processing and marketing almonds and almond ingredients. In 1914, the Exchange opened a new receiving and packaging plant in Sacramento, California, that eventually became the largest almond processing plant in the world. Today, the Sacramento plant sits on 90 acres, covering 33 city blocks and serves at the cooperative’s headquarters. In 1915, the co-op adopted the symbol of a blue diamond – the finest grade of diamond in the world – to signify its commitment to quality and in 1980, the cooperative’s name was officially changed to Blue Diamond Growers.

California produces 80% of the world’s almond supply and almonds are the state’s largest food export item. Blue Diamond Growers’ 3,000 members account for roughly half of the state’s almond producers.

A wonderful product instead of food waste

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Fludor-Benin uses cashew nut shells as a balm, a liquid that the paint and aeronautics industries thrive on. In addition to the added value it generates, this activity helps to reduce the pollution caused by the presence of cashew nut shells in nature. Such waste is harmful to the soil and the atmosphere.

Benin is Africa’s largest cashew nut producer, with more than 100,000 tonnes generated in 2019. Except that until now, only the almond, the edible part of the nut, was extracted and exported, mainly to India. The shells of the nuts, on the other hand, had no use. They were either destroyed or discarded in the wild. The cashew waste contains acidic oil, which is harmful to the soil and the atmosphere. The new production line in Fludor-Benin addresses this problem of environmental pollution.

“There is 20 percent cashew balm in the cashew shell, which is still significant. Burning them in the open air or burying them is very bad for the soil, and for the atmosphere. Transforming cashew shells into balm requires a technology that is not very easy to master,” said Roland Riboux, Fludor’s CEO. He adds that his company is the only one in West Africa to create this value.

A daily production of 10 tons of cashew balm

Fludor began production of cashew balm in 2019. It obtains its shells from other cashew processing companies based in Benin. “Currently, we produce 10 tonnes of oil a day, so we need 30 to 40 tonnes of shells for that. Our goal is to take all the cashews from Benin. We export to India, Japan, China, where industries using cashew balm are developing,” said Vinod Kumar, an engineer in Fludor-Benin.

Indeed, the brown resin or liquid contained in the cashew nut shell is sometimes used to make inks, varnishes to protect against insect pests or as a waterproofing, insecticide or vehicle friction elements for brakes and clutches. Cashew oil is of great importance in the paint industry in particular, being used in the composition of anti-rust or gloss paints. It is also used in aeronautics, as a hydrocarbon in aviation.

Located in the south of Benin, two hours drive from Cotonou, the capital of this West African country, Fludor-Benin is a limited company promoted by the TGI Group based in Ireland and operating both in West Africa and Europe. Its investment in Benin amounts to more than €13 million, an amount contributed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the West African Development Bank (BOAD) and a consortium of local banks. In 2013, the company posted a turnover of 15.7 billion CFA francs, i.e. about 24 million euros for a workforce of 231 employees.

Vietnam expects surge of cashew exports

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NDO/VNA – Cashew exports are expected to surge in the latter half of the year once the COVID-19 pandemic is put under control. But the cashew industry will still have to lower its export target of US$4 billion for this year.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development, exporters shipped 86,000 tonnes of nuts in the first three months of the year for US$609 million, down 4.7% year-on-year in value despite an 8.2% rise in volumes.

The US, the Netherlands and China remained the country’s top three biggest import markets, it said.

The pandemic outbreak in most of cashew importing countries has caused difficulties for Vietnamese firms exporting the nuts.

Pham Van Cong, chairman of the Vietnam Cashew Association, said the industry is unlikely to achieve its export target for the year of US$4 billion.

The association is conducting a comprehensive assessment to make appropriate adjustments to the target, he said.

The ministry’s Agro Processing and Market Development Authority said there has been good progress in controlling the pandemic in China, and exports to the market have shown signs of improvement.

Analysts said exports would recover after the pandemic is contained, and so enterprises would need to make plans to boost exports in the latter half of the year.

They said the EU would be a promising export market.

Germany has for instance high demand for small and medium-sized cashew nuts for use in the food industry, and Vietnamese firms are competitive in these varieties, they said.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has forecast cashew exports to Germany to rise in the second half of the year when the pandemic is controlled and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) comes into effect.

Its import-export department said businesses should closely monitor the disease situation to make plans, including purchasing raw cashew, selling processed nuts and stockpiling raw materials and finished products.

They also would need to enhance trade promotion activities online and connect businesses online now so that they could quickly revive exports as soon as the pandemic is controlled, it said.

Vietnamese enterprises imported 161,000 tonnes of raw cashew at a cost of US$246 million in the first three months of the year, a year-on-year decrease of 29.5% in volume and 37.9% in value.

Tanzania, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Ivory Coast, and Nigeria were the biggest suppliers.

Pistachios from Iran: A history of trade problems

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Andrea Durkin highlights four plotlines that characterize the problems if Iranian Nut Trade

Extreme Quantitative Restrictions – A Trade Embargo

For most of history, Iran has been the world’s biggest source of pistachios. They are Iran’s most significant agricultural export by volume and value. Iran was the biggest supplier to the United States, but damaged relations following the Islamic Revolution of 1979 changed that. U.S. sanctions imposed since that time have a complex and layered history but have almost always involved a complete embargo on Iranian exports to the United States.

Following the lifting of the initial embargo in 1981, Iran’s food exports to the United States rebounded somewhat before the embargo was reintroduced in 1987. In an easing of sanctions in 2000, very modest amounts of foods from Iran were imported through Treasury Department-issued licenses. By 2010, imports of foods from Iran were again fully prohibited. The 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal would have enabled Iran to export pistachios and other agricultural products and lifted restrictions on financing, which Iran hoped would inject much needed capital investment in the agricultural sector. U.S. withdrawal of the Nuclear Deal in May 2018 saw a return to strict U.S. sanctions on imports from Iran.

Milestones in US-Iran competition in global pistachio trade

Classic Farm Subsidies

When sanctions were first imposed in 1979, U.S. pistachio production was 7,700 metric tons, up quite substantially from the first U.S. commercial crop in 1976 of just 680 metric tons. In comparison, Iran had averaged 19,504 metric tons per year in the decade leading up to sanctions, but peaked in 1978 at nearly 59,874 metric tons. At the time, Iran accounted for nearly 100 percent of U.S. imported pistachio nuts. After falling off during the embargo, Iran renewed exports when the embargo was lifted in the early 1980s.

In March 1986, the Commerce Department found in favor of a U.S. industry petition that complained the Iranian government was subsidizing pistachio production. Iran (as many developing countries do) was providing supports to its agricultural producers by subsidizing the cost of key inputs such as fertilizer, chemicals, seeds, water and energy and by guaranteeing a minimum price for their output. The investigation resulted in a 99.5 percent countervailing duty on in-shell pistachios and a 318 percent duty on roasted pistachios.

Because Iran was not a signatory to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and is not a WTO member (the United States has repeatedly blocked its application for accession), no injury determination was required.

US tariffs on pistachios

“Less Than Fair Value”

In a parallel 1986 investigation, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) found that the volume of raw in-shell pistachios imported from Iran had increased significantly after the embargo was lifted in 1981. U.S. producers had secured 93.2 percent of the U.S. market in 1980, which was about 12.5 million pounds. By 1985, the overall size of the U.S. market had swelled to 61 million pounds, and Iran’s share had grown to 42.3 percent, accounting for almost 100 percent of all imports.

At the same time, the unit value of imports from Iran (import price) fell by around half. The USITC determined that raw in-shell pistachios imported from Iran were being sold at “less than fair market value” (or, being “dumped”) in the U.S. market, causing material injury to the U.S. industry. The Commerce Department calculated an offset in the form of a 241 percent antidumping duty, which would be applied in additional to the 99.5 percent countervailing duty.

In years of embargo, the duties were irrelevant and thus only two reviews have since been conducted to determine whether the duties should remain in place. In both 2005 and more recently in 2017, the USITC determined they should.

Developed v. Developing Country Producers

According to the Iran Pistachio Association (IPA), Iran has around 150,000 farmers, but more than 70 percent of the production is small-scale on orchards of 2 hectares or less. In a “good” year, annual pistachio production capacity reaches 280,000 metric tons in Iran, but harvesting is inefficient. Pistachios are picked by hand from fallen clusters, their hulls removed by hand, and the nuts graded manually. Inadequate water management undercuts Iranian production, but when Iran’s yield is strong, the country’s pistachio exporters hold a price and geographic advantage. And IPA says they are competitive globally based on strong demand for the wide variety of Iranian pistachio cultivars with different flavor profiles and a higher kernel to in-shell ratio.

In contrast, the United States has some 950 growers, mainly in California, whose mechanized production is highly efficient, yielding a whopping 487,500 metric tons over the 2018-19 season (though output is cyclical and weather-dependent so yields may be down over 30 percent this year). Achievements in increased outputs made during a period when the U.S. market was closed to Iran, its only major competitor, enabled the U.S. industry to reach a position where it could both serve the domestic market and challenge Iran for market share all over the world. Iran has barely exported any pistachios to the United States since 1986 but it remains a contender in key third markets.

US leads pistachio production

Combined, the United States and Iran account for more than 70 percent of global exports of pistachios. Iran tends to hold the top spot in the Middle East, India, and Eastern Europe and holds an edge in developing country markets. The key battlegrounds in the U.S.-Iran pistachio wars are Western Europe and China where demand is strong and growing.

American pistachio growers fretted when the Trump administration raised tariffs on products from China. When China retaliated, raising the tariff on U.S. pistachios from five to as high as 55 percent, that created an opportunity for China to substitute Iranian pistachios. However, Iran ultimately suffered a bad crop year and it’s not clear whether China collected the tariffs, so sales of U.S. pistachios in China actually increased.

Not a Happy or Tragic Ending

The U.S. pistachio industry was concerned about the potential for renewed competition from Iran under the 2015 nuclear deal that eased sanctions. Their fears were allayed when the USITC voted to maintain the 1986 legacy of prohibitive tariffs. No matter, the Trump administration has strengthened sanctions and the embargo remains.

In the end, global demand for pistachios is higher than production, leaving room for both American and Iranian producers to find a market for all they can grow.

In an NPR interview four years ago, Brian Blackwell, a grower from Tulare County, CA wasn’t concerned about the reentry of Iranian pistachios in the U.S. market and explained the nature of global commodity markets this way: “This is a global marketplace nowadays. So, if Iran brought a million pounds of pistachios into the United States, that just means there’s a million pounds that didn’t get sold in China or Europe. U.S. pistachios could fill that market.”

Read in full at: https://www.globaltrademag.com/pistachios-the-quirks-of-agricultural-trade-in-a-nutshell/

Hazelnut production 20% lower in Turkey

ORDU. As the TMO has announced the next round of sales for May, the selling price is unexpectedly high. Marketplayers reckon that hazelnut production will take a 20% dip in Turkey this year.

The TMO continues to seil its stocks in May and has issued a selling price of TRY 24 per kg for a volume 20,000 metric tonnes – 17,500 metric tonnes in Levant quality and 2,500 metric tonnes in Giresun quality. Market players reckon that this will be the final round of sales for the season. Only hazelnut exporters and industrial processors are allowed to buy and have to pay a deposit of 25% of the selling price. The selling price remains valid until 31 May.

The TMO’s se lling price has, however, caused some irritation as a more appropriate price ofTRY 22 per kg was initially anticipated. Small farmers have already sold their supplies and cannot profit from the TMO’s high price. Some traders reckon that the TMO intends to prevent a price collapse at the start of the new season in view of an possible inflation prompted by the coronavirus crisis. The Turkish Lira remains under pressure.

The market is highly volatile at present. Crackers selling their stocks to buy from the TMO at cheaper rates caused a temporary decline in farmgate prices from TRY 51 per kg to TRY 49.50 per kg. The high TMO price is, however, not attractive enough for buyers to conduct speculative purchases and the current market Situation is too uncertain for any forecasts concerning 04 or later. Buyers in Europe have enough stocks at there disposal and prefer to wait and see, which turn the market will take in Turkey. Natural hazelnuts, size 11-13 mm, are currently trading at EUR 7.40 per kg.

Market players expect a 20% decline in production. Crop estimates will, however, only be issued towards the end of May as there are no platforms, such as the INC, for which early production estimates are required this year. The advantage, however, is that late production estimates should be more reliable since the impact of the cold temperatures witnessed over the last few weeks can be better assessed.

Why COVID-19 calls for more automation in the food industry

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Raf Peeters CEO & Founder at Qcify

COVID-19 has the world in its grip, creating chaos and uncertainty. The economy has been dealt a severe blow, and the food industry hasn’t been spared. But hard times call for scrappiness and creativity. Companies have to find innovative new ways to keep their business going. For the food industry, the answer just might be automation.

Time for more automation

The food industry is very people-intensive. Right now there’s huge demand, as you can see from people hoarding in the shops. We’re seeing a lot of empty shelves, especially for non-perishables like nuts and rice. This means we can keep producing, right? But the problem is, what about our staff?

There should be enough non-perishables in storage and production to last for months. Though with staff shortages it could be difficult to get those distributed quickly once distribution centers are cleaned out. When it comes to production, we also have a safety issue for employees. A company staffed by software engineers can easily ask their employees to work from home for a few weeks. For the food industry it’s a different story. Someone has to man the forklift or the assembly line, they can’t do it remotely. A factory needs people to keep it going. It’s a huge dilemma for food industry managers and it’s causing tremendous uncertainty: will my staff show up tomorrow? Not only are more people getting sick, schools are starting to close everywhere. A lot of people have no childcare options, so there are tough calls to be made.

Automation is the answer

Automation could play a big part in solving this dilemma. Imagine if you could run a factory that normally needs 50-100 staff with 20. If there is a silver lining to the COVID-19, it might be this: companies can take a critical look at how they function and find ways to run their businesses more efficiently. 

Take our machine: if it can help you do the same work with two people that you used to do with six, that’s a win. Fewer people means less risk. Especially because Qcify’s machine is easy to operate: if the person who operates it is out sick, they can even be replaced by pretty much anybody of the staff. While with manual quality control, someone from the quality control department can only be replaced by another quality control professional with the right training to do classifications. This makes it very tricky to replace a sick staffer: it could take weeks. Weeks where you have no way of providing consistent data and where you lose a lot of time and resources in training the replacement quality control staffer. So more automation is definitely something to consider. 

Short-term changes, long-term success

It’s hard to implement automation from one day to the next. Our machines are the easy part: we can install them in a day and train people in less than half an hour. Integrating our machines with sorting machines and other apparatus isn’t quite so simple. There are some actions that can be implemented in the very short term however. These also happen to be the measures that are an absolute must for food companies. I’m talking about changing the extent to which technology can help the company work remotely. Or improving efficiency to avoid various production and staffing problems. The goal is to run your factory as efficiently as possible. This means we can keep the whole industry running through any pandemic, and keep the flow of food to the world running more reliably.

I see this crisis situation mainly as a kind of nudge or incentive for companies to arm themselves better against problems like these. Hopefully we can take all the lessons learned and technology experiments we end up carrying out with us into the future. So we can play it safer, and create the security that is every company’s best weapon.

Spain needs another 100,000 hectares of pistachios

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The Manchego pistachio stands out for having superior organoleptic qualities than American pistachios. The quality of our products will most likely continue since this is attributable to a substantially shorter vegetative cycle, which is linked to smaller trees and, therefore, more efficient photosynthesis. Global warming is damaging production in California and benefiting trees on the Iberian Peninsula. The salt content in water in Iran will lead to a decline in the medium term in Iranian production.

The US and Iran are the largest pistachio producers in the world. High demand for this nut around the world contrasts with supply. Focusing only on Europe, it’s estimated that more than 300,000 ha are needed to avoid imports, address pistachio production for the industry, and assume consumption will increase in the next decade. In this context, there is only one country on the continent (except for Turkey) with the capacity to produce this quality nut: Spain, specifically the southern half of the Peninsula, excluding approximately the first 100 kilometers of its coast.

The first person to bring the pistachio to the Madrid region was José Luis Ocaña, who is now 84 years old. In 2001, he decided to plant 2.5 hectares in Tielmes, a town in the southeast of the region. “I saw it [pistachio trees] in a magazine and decided to try it out. It was a gamble, because they didn’t exist back then. They called me the ‘the crazy pistachio guy’,” he says. A few years later, he doubled the number of hectares. Luis Ocaña recognizes that the pistachios are very profitable, but advises caution. “For many it’s the new ‘green gold,’ but it’s too early to celebrate,” he says. The pistachio, nevertheless, has become the fifth-biggest fruit crop in the region.

Pistachio trees are planted six meters apart. Every hectare fits 238 trees, of which 211 are females. The male trees must pollinate their flowers via the wind, so there must be one male tree for every eight to 12 females. Every hectare produces between 600 and 1,000 kilos of pistachios, double if the ground is irrigated. Producers receive between €4.5 and €5.5 for every kilo, and €10.5 if the variety is organic. But the final market price can reach as much as €30 a kilo. Madrid produces around 450 tons of pistachios, barely 5% of the national product. These pistachios are imported throughout Europe, where they are highly valued. Spain, however, consumes lower quality pistachios that come from the United States and Iran, which are the world leaders in the pistachio industry. Experts say there is enough business for at least two more decades.

“Spain needs another 100,000 hectares of pistachios. With the current growth rate, they’ll be planted in the next eight years,” says Díez. The crop adapts well to extreme climate, meaning that it can also grow in inland regions such as Extremadura, Castile y León and Castile-La Mancha, which has 80% of Spain’s pistachio plantations. The pistachio, however, has failed to flourish in the northeastern region of Catalonia. The tree was introduced in the 1970s, but did not adapt well to the high humidity. 

To ensure Madrid farmers are not faced with similar problems, the Imidra carries out risk assessments, tests organic fertilizers and new varieties of pistachio (up to seven), and selects and improves the quality of grafts. What’s more, they offer courses to all producers that are interested in growing pistachio trees. Luis Ocaña, who led the way for other farmers, says: “If I could travel back in time, I’d plant them again.” Now nobody calls him crazy.

Read in full at El Pais: https://english.elpais.com/economy_and_business/2020-03-13/are-pistachios-the-new-green-gold-in-spain.html

Kenyan macadamia farmers suffer

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April is usually an important month for macadamia farmers in Kenya as this is the period when harvesting begins.

There is normally increased activity on farms in central Kenya in particular as farmers harvest their produce and sell to processors or brokers for as high as 220 Kenyan shillings (about 2.2 U.S. dollars) a kilogram. But with the outbreak of COVID-19 that has disrupted the global market, prices of the much-loved nuts have declined to an all-time low of 0.80 dollars a kilogram as farmers lack market.

However, to stem losses, savvy farmers are harvesting and bulking the nuts, some with the help of processors, as they wait for the world to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. China, United States, Middle East and Europe are some of the markets where Kenyan farmers export the produce to. “The processor is helping us store the nuts until the global markets open up. We are harvesting and taking to them because we do not have quality storage facilities,” Charles Muriuki, a farmer in Meru, said on Wednesday.

Muriuki observed that they agreed with the processor to store the nuts, who would then pay them minus the storage charges, hoping that the crisis would end soon. “The nuts are prone to mold attack which causes aflatoxin if not stored well. We are better off when they are with the processor,” he said, adding that farmers only collect those that have fallen on the ground, symbolizing they are mature. Some farmers like Mathew Ng’ang’a in Murang’a are, however, drying and storing the produce for themselves hoping that the global market would resume soon and prices would rise as trade flourishes once again.

So far, he has harvested three 90kg bags of the nuts and stored them in sisal bags which help prolong the shelf-life, according to lessons he picked from agricultural officers. “Sisal bags are the best because they allow good aeration of air thus temperatures do not rise inside leading to mold attack unlike when one uses polythene sacks,” said Ng’ang’a, adding that the bag should be placed on raised timber planks to avoid water or moisture from reaching the nuts. But even as farmers dry and bulk their produce, they have crossed their fingers that the COVID-19 shutdown of global markets does not persist for long, so that export of the produce resumes soon.

The high yields are one of the reasons some farmers in the east African nation have ditched coffee and tea for macadamia. According to Peter Wangara of Limbua Ltd, which processes and exports macadamia, the export market is shut currently and since they are working with contracted farmers, they are collecting the nuts and drying for them to achieve moisture content of 3 percent before storing. East African nation’s macadamia production stood at around 50,000 tons in 2019, having grown five-fold since 2009, according to the Agriculture and Food Authority. At least 30 firms in Kenya process the nuts before exporting as the law requires. Enditem

Pecans and pistachios contribute to Arizona’s economy

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Tree nuts – specifically pecans and pistachios – are making a growing contribution to Arizona’s economy, according to a study from University of Arizona Cooperative Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Arizona’s tree nut industry generated an estimated $92.6 million in direct sales in 2017. That includes $70 million in pecans, $8.4 million in pistachios, $12.8 million through tree nut processing and $1.4 million through other farm-related activities, such as agritourism. Arizona ranked second in the United States in pistachio production, behind California, and fourth in pecan production, behind Georgia, New Mexico and Texas.

The study was funded through a United States Department of Agriculture block grant program designed to improve the competitiveness of specialty crops, like tree nuts. Researchers used data from 2017, which is the most recent year when complete statistics were available.

The study’s lead researcher, Dari Duval, economic impact analyst with Cooperative Extension and the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, says the total economic impact is actually higher, thanks in large part to work being done on orchards even before trees bear nuts.

“Because the state has a lot of new acreage, there are still many young trees that are not yet producing tree nuts,” Duval said. “Nonetheless, there are people working there to prune and irrigate those trees. So, when we look at industry sales, that new acreage isn’t necessarily reflected. However, the contribution to the economy is still significant because the producers are spending money maintaining those orchards.”

For pecans, it takes about four years for a tree to reach bearing age. For pistachios, it takes about five to six years.

Researchers estimate that, including sales generated indirectly through multiplier effects, such as businesses supplying tree nut producers with goods and services and industry employees spending their income at local businesses, the tree nut industry’s total contribution to the Arizona economy was $190 million in sales in 2017, and $113 million in gross state product. Duval says the industry supported 1,436 jobs in 2017, generated $73 million in labor income.

Because of the large amount of acreage yet to mature into production, Duval thinks it’s safe to assume that pecan and pistachio production will continue to grow in Arizona. In 2017, 38% of the state’s total tree nut acreage was nonbearing. She says total industry acreage more than doubled between 2007 and 2017. In 2017, 343 Arizona farms produced tree nuts, totaling 35,261 acres.

What About Water?

As the tree nut industry grows, balancing its water needs with the availability and affordability of groundwater supplies needed by residents and other water users will continue to be an important issue, Duval says.

Her research team found that tree nuts are not significantly higher water users than most other crops in the state.

“What we found is tree nuts fall just under the statewide average for all crops produced in terms of water requirements per acre,” Duval said. “We can also look at revenue per acre foot of water applied. Tree nuts are a fairly high-value crop. Compared to other crops in the state, they’re generating relatively high sales per acre foot of water.”

The team estimates tree nuts require just below the statewide average of 4.4 acre-feet of water applied per acre for irrigated cropland. However, as nonbearing acreage matures, water requirements will increase.

Researchers also found gross revenues per acre-foot of water applied for pecans and pistachios are higher than most of Arizona’s major field crops. When considering only bearing acreage, gross revenues per acre-foot of water applied topped $1,000 for pecans and $800 for pistachios. In comparison, the team says gross revenues per acre-foot of water for major Arizona field crops ranged from $200 to $400.

The full report is available online. The Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics has conducted several studies on the impact of specific industries on Arizona’s economy that are available online.

Duval’s research team also included Ashley Bickel, economic impact analyst; George Frisvold, professor of agricultural and resource economics and extension specialist; and Stephanie Perez, graduate research assistant.

320,000 tons of pistachios in production in Iran

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A total of 320,000 tons of pistachios have been produced in Iran since the beginning of the current Iranian year (March 21), an Agriculture Ministry official said. Kerman Province is a top pistachio-producing province with 100,000 tons of output so far this year, followed by Khorasan Razavi, Yazd, Fars, South Khorasan, Semnan, Markazi and Qom,” Darab Hassani was also quoted as saying by ILNA.

Iran is the world’s top pistachio exporter, besides the US. Hassani expects exports to exceed 150,000 tons by the end of the current fiscal year (March 19, 2020). Iran’s annual domestic demand for pistachio amounts to 35,000-45,000 tons, accounting for 20% of the total output.  On average, Iran exports 80% of its total pistachio yields, of which 80% go to only 10 countries. Germany, Afghanistan, the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, India, Iraq, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are the main buyers of Iranian pistachio.