Prices show moderate gains as trade activity improves 

September 18, 2023

Prices for assessed kernel items firmed in the global pecan market during the week ending on Friday as trade activity increased and shellers estimated the upcoming U.S. crop at 303 million lbs.

Fancy Jr Mam H prices gained 3 cents to $4.50/lb FOB Texas. Two prompt-shipment loads of the item traded at the same level on Thursday.

One load of the smaller Fancy Jumbo H sold at $4.45/lb FOB Texas, and two at $4.45/lb FOB Texas after accounting for freight to Europe. This set the Fancy Jr Mam H premium to Fancy Jumbo H at 5 cents. Also, one load of the larger Fancy Mam H traded at $4.70/lb CIF Israel. No trade was reported on Fancy Med Pcs or Fancy Lge Pcs.

Participants described demand as steady during the September 8-15 assessment period as buyers fulfilled booked shipments and sought more supply for Q4. “I’m seeing demand from both the U.S. and Europe,” a Mexico-based sheller said on Thursday.

In the inshell market, buyers from China were purchasing 2022 crop inshell and were seeking to negotiate contracts for inshell that will ship from the 2023 crop, multiple participants said. No other details were revealed and no new inshell trades were reported.

Participants were paying close attention to demand from buyers in China, who may have bought less inshell from South Africa than desired earlier this year due to a smaller-than-expected crop from that country. Inshell demand from China could bolster prices of both inshell and kernel items for sellers in North America. “The more of that product that gets pulled off the market, the more it elevates everything else,” a second Mexico-based sheller said on Friday.

The latest U.S. crop forecast from shellers gathered at the National Pecan Shellers Association annual meeting in Austin, TX, on Wednesday and Thursday was 10 million lbs smaller compared with its forecast last year.

Hurricane Idalia was expected to reduce output from Georgia, the top-producing state in the U.S., by about 10 million lbs, shellers said at the meeting. Shellers estimated production from Georgia at 100 million lbs.

The latest crop estimate fell between two earlier forecasts from TriState (a group of growers in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi) and the Texas Pecan Growers Association. Those forecasts put the U.S. crop at 322 million lbs and 295 million lbs, respectively.

Meanwhile, growers in Mexico were offering Native inshell that will ship from the 2023 crop but for less-than-truckload (LTL) volumes, a third Mexico-based sheller said. Sales of new crop Sonora inshell from Mexico were expected to begin soon.  

The gap between offers and bids in the inshell market could be wide as 2023 crop trade opens. That’s because growers are pushing for better returns this year while shellers, faced with tight margins due to lower kernel prices, are cautious about paying too much. In the kernel market, prices for Fancy Jr Mam H shipping from the new crop remained difficult to discern. Most shellers said they will not begin offering until Q4.

“We have no interest in quoting right now,” the first sheller said.