Halves prices rise as international demand increases 

May 20, 2024

Assessed halves prices jumped in the global pecan market during the week ending on Monday as supplies of the items continued to fall, and overseas demand climbed.  

Driving the moves: Demand for halves from Europe, the Middle East, and Asia rose during the May 13-20 assessment period, with shellers fielding inquiries from countries including Italy, Israel, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Buyers there were seeking to cover for the fall and early winter, shellers said.    

Many shellers reported a dearth of Fancy Jr Mam H, as most of the inshell crack out is creating Fancy Mam H, Fancy Jumbo H, and pieces.   

What they’re saying: “I don’t see where people are going to find the material to make junior mammoth halves,” said one U.S. sheller on Friday. “I haven’t seen them anywhere. I have some more inshell to crack out this week, and if it’s anything like what I’ve seen so far, it’s going to make all mammoth halves.”  

“Buyers are starting to look at the short supply level in terms of both inshell and kernel and they want to be covered until December or January, so they are willing to pay higher prices now,” a sheller in Mexico said on Monday.   

Tell me more: Fancy Jr Mam H rose a dime to $4.77/lb FOB Texas, its highest level since Stratamarkets began assessing the item last year. The item traded five times during the period from $4.66-4.95/lb FOB Texas-equivalent, compared to four trades the previous week.  

Fancy Mam H increased 8 cents to $4.78/lb FOB Texas, its highest level since February. The item traded from $4.65-5/lb FOB Texas during the period.

The Fancy Med Pcs discount to Fancy Jr Mam H fell to 22 cents, its widest discount in months. Shellers have blamed the falling price of Fancy Med Pcs on decreased U.S. demand for the item this year, as well as drier inshell material that is creating more pieces and fewer halves than in previous years.  

Meanwhile, the assessed price of W Wichita dropped by 10 cents/pt to $3.40/pt CNF Texas as shellers continued to refrain from buying.

South Africa  

South African growers are starting to see more Chinese demand for inshell, but at lower prices than were recorded earlier in the season.  

South Africa-origin Wichita traded from $5.00-5.05/kg for a 60% meat yield and 130 count/kg, $4.80-4.90/kg for the same meat yield but 155 count/kg, all CFR China with 3 cent freight rates. Last month, similar meat yield and 130 count/kg Wichita was trading from $5.25-$5.30 CFR China, while Wichita with a similar yield and count of 160 traded at $5/kg CFR China.  

“China has started to buy a little more, but it is still going slow,” said one South African grower on Monday. “But it is still early, and we have time for it to pick up before we start shipping out.”  

South African shellers have been offering Fancy Jr Mam H from $10.50-10.80/kg CFR Europe and Fancy Med Pcs from $9.70-9.80/kg CFR Europe. But so far, interest from buyers has not resulted in sales.  

“We have seen interest from Europe on kernels, but they are not buying,” said the South African grower on Monday.  

South African growers have started harvesting for the year, and are so far reporting good quality, with yields coming at 58%-60% for Wichita variety. Growers believe that the total crop will be slightly below initial estimates of 35,000 tons, coming in closer to 31,000 tons.  By comparison, the country’s 2023 crop was 22,000 tons. 

Look ahead  

As pecans start their bloom season, some growers are worried that this year’s crop will not be as robust as 2023.  

While temperatures have been relatively mild, the El Paso Valley in Texas has received less than an inch of rain this year, much less than the typical 3 inches growers usually see between January and May. The lack of rain is leaving trees parched. The crop could be small, sources said.  

“I was disappointed with the nut set,” said one U.S. grower last week. “It’s not a disaster, but it’s not a heavy crop.” 

Growers in Chihuahua are reporting similar conditions.  

“A lot of guys in the fields are seeing fewer nuts on the trees,” said one Mexican grower on Tuesday. “There hasn’t been rain, and they don’t have the money to put in a lot of input, so it’s going to be tough for many growers.”  

The crop of U.S. Eastern varieties is looking more promising, with growers in Georgia reporting solid bloom and pollination, increasing hopes of a larger crop this year.   

“If mother nature cooperates and there are no hurricanes or extreme weather, there is the potential for a bigger crop,” said one U.S. grower on Monday.     Meanwhile, several grower associations are gathering information for forecasts expected to be released in the months ahead.