Back

Halves prices fall as demand lags 

May 6, 2024

Prices for assessed halves fell in the global pecan market during the week ending on Monday on tepid demand. 

Trade activity was thin throughout the April 29-May 6 assessment period. Fancy Jr Mam H and Fancy Mam H lost 3 cents and 6 cents, respectively. Fancy Lge Pcs gave up a penny, while Fancy Med Pcs climbed 4 cents. 

Tell me more: The Fancy Jr Mam H’s current month average price on Tuesday matched its weekly assessed price of $4.57/lb FOB Texas, down 3 cents from its monthly average price in March and April. The item has failed to strengthen despite accounts from several shellers that its supply is running low. 

One sheller said the tight supply of Fancy Jr Mam H – and an apparent glut of large and extra-large pieces – was the result of lower-quality inshell this year, which is breaking into more pieces when shelled.  

“The inshell is coming in with a much drier composition, so it breaks more easily and creates more pieces,” a sheller in Mexico said on Friday.   

Most years, the sheller gets 77% halves and 10% pieces from their shelling process. This year, they have been averaging 70% halves and 14% pieces. 

Underscoring the glut of pieces, Fancy Med Pcs has been running at a discount to Fancy Jr Mam H most of this crop year after trading at a premium last crop year. 

In Europe, spot demand in the seaborne market was weak due to inflation and buyers’ comparison of the higher-priced nuts to lower-priced competitors such as almonds and macadamias, a Dutch broker said on Wednesday.   

“Pecans are right now as expensive as macadamias, so you see people choosing other nuts,” the broker said. 

Still, kernel shipments to Europe are up. U.S. pecan kernel exports to Europe rose 133% to 14 million inshell-equivalent lbs in Q1 2024 compared with the same period last year, according to a review of data from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).  

In the inter-sheller market, trade was active, sources said.  

A U.S. sheller purchased two containers of various sizes of Argentinian-origin pieces at $4.25/lb DAP Texas. The sheller said they planned to roast the pieces.  

Additional trades and offers were reported at lower levels in the inter-sheller market. Also, South African sellers confirmed that U.S. shellers had also reached out to them in hopes of getting them to sell shelled or inshell material for cheaper prices than they can get it for in North America.  

“If shellers can’t buy pieces here at a reasonable price, they are going to look to South Africa and Argentina,” said a second U.S. sheller on Monday. “They will get new crop at a price that makes sense for them.” 

Inshell 

The assessed W Wichita price fell below $3.40/lb delivered Texas for the first time since March 8 as more shellers appear reluctant to pay the prices that growers are offering. There were four reported offers of W Schley from $3.40-3.50/pt FOB Mexico and from $3.40-3.50/pt FOB Texas, but no reported sales.  

Stratamarkets assessed W Wichita at $3.39/pt CNF Texas, down a penny from last week, following five weeks of the items being assessed at the same level. The Fancy Jr Mam H premium to W Wichita fell to $1.18/lb, below its 24-week average.  

In South Africa, inshell sales have been practically nonexistent the past few weeks as China, the country’s biggest customer, is still working through its stocks of U.S. and Mexican inshell purchased earlier in the crop year.  

Chinese brokers and wholesales still have more than 8 million lbs of inshell pecans on hand as demand at the retail level has been weak, a South African source said on Monday. 

When Chinese buyers do inquire for South African origin inshell, they are asking for lower levels, possibly fueled by sales to the country from Mexico, where a buyer was able to purchase 660,000 lbs of inshell for $3.60/pt, about 10 percent less than current South African offer prices.   “They are able to offer better prices than we can,” said the South African grower.