Annual Convention Beneficial for Pecan Industry

Perry, GA

Down in Perry, pecan producers got the chance to attend this year’s Georgia Pecan Growers Association’s annual conference; a time that allows growers and industry professionals the chance to fellowship, see the latest and greatest equipment, and learn about what’s happening in the industry.

“It’s really important for the industry to be transparent with all the knowledge that’s out there available to them,” says Samantha McLeod, Executive Director of the Georgia Pecan Growers Association. “This really focuses on their industry in particular, helps them with production on their farms and it also helps them with marketing their product after harvest. We have a lot of our national industry groups here reporting on what’s taking place, both domestically and internationally, so the growers can be a little bit more in the know about the marketplace since we aren’t a publicly traded commodity. It’s a tough, niche industry for us, so conferences like this, for specialty crops such as Georgia pecans is just really critical for awareness, joining of knowledge and information, and of course, camaraderie for the industry.

One highlight of the conference was getting to hear from Justin Jones, a Georgia producer that serves as the Industry Relations Chair for the American Pecan Council. Jones spoke to producers about the council’s efforts and challenges with getting into international markets, especially at a time when other tree nuts are struggling with price.

“From an international standpoint, the one thing we have to do is separate the pecan away from other nuts. When you look at almonds, walnuts, when you, historically, look at where we’ve moved relative to each other, we move very closely, but now you look at what the challenges the almonds are going through, the challenges the walnuts are going through, especially the price point, and now you try and separate that out because the almond and the walnut guys right now are underwater with their price. So that’s one thing we’re trying to do is keep pushing the pecan awareness and that’s the struggle is trying to fight against other, cheaper nut prices,” says Jones.

However, according to Jones, markets seem to be opening up in Asia, as India announced earlier this year that they’ll be lowering tariffs on pecans by seventy percent and China has finally lifted their covid restrictions, to which Jones says has already boosted exports.

“I think one of the biggest things we’re looking at for this coming year would possibly be China, which is a big market for us, not as big as it has been but it’s still a big market. You look at when they released their covid restrictions and kind of went back to a normal situation, you could say, where you look at our exports just in the last month or two; they have climbed tremendously just from somewhat opening up of the markets and people getting back to a normal way of life in China. Will that move the needle enough to focus back to the grower level on price? Still to be determined. Especially with other nut prices like they are right now,” says Jones.

By: John Holcomb