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Pecan prices climb as market conditions remain difficult to navigate 

January 19, 2024

Prices levelled or rose in the global pecan market during the week ending on Friday as sellers held to offer levels and buyers showed more demand for spot purchases.

The assessed Fancy Jr Mam H price rose 6 cents during the Jan. 13-19 assessment period, climbing to a $4.58/lb FOB Texas level. The item traded three times during the assessment period from $4.53-$4.65/lb FOB Texas-equivalent. A similar item, Fancy Mam H, traded at $4.50/lb EXW Texas at the close of the period.

Trade on Fancy Lge Pcs was brisk. The item traded multiple times from $4.40-$4.70/lb FOB Texas-equivalent and was assessed at $4.56/lb FOB Texas, up 13 cents on the week.

No trades were reported for Fancy Med Pcs, though the item was offered four times from $4.50-$5.30/lb FOB Texas. It was assessed at $4.49/lb FOB Texas based on the most competitive offer.

The prices moves put the Fancy Jr Mam H premium to Fancy Med Pcs at 9 cents. Fancy Jr Mam H had been valued at a discount to Fancy Med Pcs in recent months.

Market participants are choosing spot sales and short-term contracts over long-term contracts, partly due to high interest rates across the globe.

“Right now, we are booking for April and May,” said one Mexico-based sheller on Sunday. “People need to move volume. Fewer are willing to do long-term contracts. High interest rates are a problem, and people don’t want to carry inventory.”

Inshell

Most of the eastern varieties of pecans – including Desirables and Stuarts – are now practically sold out, said several sources.

“Most of the eastern varieties have either been purchased or reported by Stratamarkets already,” said one U.S. grower on Friday. “There is not much left out there.”

Stratamarkets assessed Desirable at $3.44/pt FOB Georgia and Stuart at $3.29/pt FOB Georgia, unchanged on the week due to a lack of new trades, bids, or offers.

The assessed W Wichita price moved up 3 cents to $3.28/pt DAP Texas, based on two trades that occurred prior to the assessment period but were reported during the period. The item was also offered at $3.30/pt EXW Mexico FG.

Market economics

The market environment remained challenging due to current market-clearing prices for both inshell and kernel, multiple sources said.

“Growers are pushing up the price of inshell and the buyers are pushing down on the price of kernel,” said a U.S. trader on Sunday. “For the big growers, if they’re not at $3.30 or $3,40 per point, they’re not going to make money.”

As a result, trade activity remained lighter than usual for this time of year, multiple sources said.

“If kernel prices don’t go up or inshell prices don’t go down, nothing is going to move,” said a second U.S. trader on Friday. “If the buyer is willing to pay higher prices for kernel and push the prices up, then we can move something. But at the current price buyers are willing to pay, and with inshell being so high, no sheller can make it.”

Kernel prices need to be at about $1.50/lb premium to inshell for processors to make enough money to cover costs. On Friday, Fancy Jr Mam H was assessed at a $1.30/lb premium to W Wichita, a $1.14/lb premium to Desirable, and a $1.29/lb premium to Stuart.

Looking ahead

More major retail tenders are on the horizon, with at least two expected to be proffered in the next two weeks, said sources. In recent weeks, large tenders have contracted levels below spot prices, leaving many in the industry worried that future tenders might drag kernel prices down.

In South Africa, growers are getting ready for their spring harvest. One South African sheller who recently returned from a scouting trip to China said buyers in that country will be looking for deals.

“Buyers are hoping that pecan prices will decrease a little” the South African sheller said on Thursday. “The Chinese economy is under pressure and pecans are expensive compared to macadamia and almonds.”

The higher prices are pushing Chinese buyers to purchase lower-quality items and then sell them as low-end processed foods. That trend could either damage the reputation of pecans in China or make them more popular in the country, the sheller said.

“My personal feeling is that this will grow consumption over time and that it might be good,” he said.

As for the South African crop, growers are lowering their estimates. They had said last month that the country’s crop would be about 37,000 tons, but now they are adjusting that number down to between 28,000 tons and 32,000 tons, the sheller said.