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California pistachio crop could reach 1.5 billion lbs.

The California pistachio harvest is soon wrapping up an on-year for the crop following last year’s off-year, lower-sized crop. “The original estimate for 2023 was around 1.3 billion lbs. Last week’s report on crop deliveries from growers to processors as of October 20th is 1.48 billion lbs.,” says Richard Matoian, president of American Pistachio Growers. “That’s well above the original estimate and with a bit of harvest still set to occur, that total in the end may reach 1.5 billion lbs.”

With the final carry-in number from 2022’s crop at 163 million lbs., Matoian says it’s the lowest amount in three years given last season’s shorter crop.

While alternate bearing is a factor for pistachio production in a given year, it’s not the only factor in determining crop size. “We had more than adequate chill hours during the winter--the cool spring delayed the harvest timing by eight to 10 days later than normal. Also, the availability of water has always been a big issue in California and with El Nino, we had plenty of water and snowpack. There was water literally in abundance,” Matoian says. In fact, flooding in the Tulare Lake Basin led to losing some 4,000 acres of pistachio trees.

Increased export demand
As for demand, shipments through the last fiscal year which ended August 31 2023 set a new record and is the third straight year of record pistachio shipments. “Demand is increasing in various parts of the world--Asia in particular and the Middle East,” he adds. “However our number one market continues to be Europe and we have increased demand in those areas.” In all, the export market was up by 13.7 percent.

Domestically, for the last year, demand has declined by 5.5 percent--given the increased export demand, the overall gain was 7.8 percent. “In the last four years, the domestic market has been growing. It’s taken a slight dip and I don’t think it’s anything to be concerned about,” says Matoian.

As for pricing, on the grower side for 2023, it has gone down a bit while wholesale prices have remained stable over the last year. In fact, wholesale prices have been rising over the last six months, particularly given the short crop.

Managing a greater crop of pistachios is something that will continue. A recent report from the association looking ahead at pistachio production in California indicates that the state will hit its first 2 billion lb. crop by 2031. (California hit the first one billion lb. crop of pistachios in 2020.) “We’re going to have this rapid rise in supply over a short period of time,” says Matoian. “Our job now is to build demand worldwide ahead of this increased production.”

For more information:
Richard Matoian
American Pistachio Growers
Tel: +1 (559) 475-0435 x 111
[email protected]