It's Time That Certain Segments of the Pecan Industry Enter the 21st Century

November 09, 2020

While reading the October issue of The Pecan Grower magazine, I was struck by several comments in the article authored by Dr. Lenny Wells.  The one that jumped off the page was the comment on sheller participation on the Board of the American Pecan Council, “The biggest gripe most growers have is that shellers sit on the board of the American Pecan Council.” I thought that the industry was long past this, but apparently not.  Not only are there still growers who would like to blame the shellers for the industry’s current woes, there are a number who believe that the APC itself is to blame and should therefore be eliminated.  Neither position could be further from the truth nor more detrimental to our industry.

Let us take a simple quiz.  Please check off the answer, or answers, that apply:

What are the primary reasons for the current market malaise?

  1. Trade war between the US and China
  2. COVID 19 Pandemic
  3. Increasing supply, both domestically and globally
  4. Low prices of almonds and walnuts
  5. All the above
  6. None of the above

The correct answer is ‘e’, All the above.

Using the same answers, which of the above can either the shellers or the APC control? 

The correct answer is ‘f’, None of the above.

For the first time in the history of our industry, we are faced with a fourth year of depressed prices, not because of anything any one segment of the industry did but because of circumstances beyond our control. However, rather than admit the obvious, certain segments of the industry need to blame someone.  Historically, that has been the shellers.  Now some would add the APC.

As is often the case, those with the loudest voices are the ones with no solutions or the willingness to work together to address the issues. Working with the National Pecan Sheller’s Association and a number of the State Grower Associations, the APC has developed new standards, standards that they hope to make mandatory, which will help address the issue of poor quality pecans coming into the country.  Where are those voices in that process?  Without the APC, the industry has no authority, or power, to control incoming pecans yet those voices would rather complain and do away with the only means to solve the problem rather than work to resolve it.

Those same voices conveniently fail to realize that since the inception of the APC, overall consumption has increased, not just in the US, but worldwide.  Because of the APC, the industry is on the cusp of developing the ability to collect accurate crop production data while, at the same time, collecting good production and processing cost figures.  For the first time ever, the industry knows what portion of the cold storage is committed, what needs to be sold and what the make-up of the unsold tonnage consists of.  The industry has never had this type of data yet those same loud voices would rather go back to a time when guesses and assumptions controlled the decision-making process. 

Without the APC, and the mutually beneficial relationships developed since its inception, there would be no National Pecan Federation, an organization that has already proved its worth in more than one area.

Then there is the national marketing and promotion program. Without the APC, each State would be left to market their crop.  Other than Texas and Georgia, that would be through voluntary contributions.  Never, in the history of the industry, has there been a marketing budget like the one currently administered by the APC.  Because of the APC, worldwide awareness of pecans, and the benefits of using them, has continued to grow.  New markets are being created, and while some growers chose to believe that the pecans grown in their state are somehow superior to the same varieties grown next door, its time they realized that with the exception of certain limited applications, BUYERS DON’T CARE!  They’re buying pecans, and until those loud voices realize that a pecan sold, regardless of it origin, creates a benefit for the entire industry, than the pecan will continue to be looked at as a third rate nut produced by an industry that refuses to move into the twenty-first century.  Instead of complaining, why not decide to do whatever it takes to make sure that both the APC, and our industry, continue to move forward and evolve? But that would be too logical.