Dutchman Jorick Voorzee sets up export line for Mexican pecans

A final year study on the export opportunities of limes brought the Dutchman Jorick Voorzee to Mexico. By now he is married to a Mexican woman, has two children, grows his own pecans in Mexico, and also takes care of sales for the other members of the cooperative. “I came into contact with the son of a pecan grower. In the past, the US was their only sales market, but they were convinced more sales opportunities could be found globally. And it turned out they were right. I started visiting countless fairs, and by now we ship our pecans globally!”

The Mexican growers have united in a cooperative, and started a combined peeling factory, called JF Nuts. Jorick is responsible for the entire sales. “By now, 168 growers have joined us, with an average area of 25 hectares per grower. People often speak highly of the American pecan production, but it’s expected that the Mexican production will surpass the American within a few years. Besides our own production, we also purchase pecans elsewhere. Annually, we sent about 300 to 400 containers of unpeeled pecans to China, and about 250 containers to other destinations.”

This week the pecan harvest starts in the first Mexican growing area. The harvest lasts until January, and is spread over multiple regions. “People often expect high temperatures in Mexico, but some areas could just as easily report -20 ºC. But that’s only to the advantage of the product, for that matter. Cold is good for flavour and oil,” Jorick says. There’s not much pressure on sales. “We have it quite easy, regarding that. With a good cold supply chain and packaging, pecans can easily be stored for a year-and-a-half to two years.”

The pecans are harvested mechanically by placing a gripper on the trees and shaking them. The nuts are then sorted to size under a lean-to outside, and the surplus dust is removed. Subsequently, the pecans are placed in the containers directly for the Chinese market, or they are cleaned, cracked and peeled before being placed in cold stores. “There’s always the moment in March when growers decide to sell them unpeeled or place them in the cold store. That causes a traditional slump on the market,” Jorick explains.

“Our pecans are truly sent all over the world. Compared to colleague growers in Mexico, our focus on the European market is unique. Within Europe, the UK, Belgium, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands are good sales markets, but we also sell our pecans in the US and Canada. In Asia, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan are good markets. There’s also some opportunities in Israel, where eating pecans is an old tradition. The US is basically self-supporting, but because they also export, they have to import the nuts as well,” the exporter says.

Opportunities and threats
“The availability of water is a threat to our cultivation. This is currently preventing actually planting in Chihuahua. Labour isn’t the problem, because the harvest is mostly mechanised. Furthermore, I expect consumption to grow considerably, because more and more people are finding out that nuts are very healthy. The Netherlands Nutrition Centre recently gave the advice to consume a handful of nuts every day, and I heard from market vendors that this immediately had a positive effect on sales. Besides, it’s an incredibly sustainable cultivation of a non-GMO product, for which farmers, for example, make their own fertiliser. Our growers also have a small part of the range available organically, but there isn’t enough demand to switch to this on a larger scale.”

“I think that pecan cultivation could be a very good investment. It might take eight years before the nuts grow on the trees, but the trees also produce for 100 years. I am a bit worried about multinationals such as Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), which recently bought two major companies. They have so much money it’s impossible to compete with them,” Jorick says. He doesn’t think he’ll ever leave Mexico. “Occasionally I visit family in the Netherlands for a few weeks, but my future is in Mexico. For example, I’m planning on growing macadamias. These are also still unknown here.” 

For more information:
Jorick Voorzee
Mexico Trendy Flavors
Tel: +52(1)33 11681428

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