Business, Economics and Jobs

China goes nuts for US pecans


An Indian man holds up cashews.


Noah Seelam

US pecan exports to China jumped 64 percent last year.

The nut has become a Chinese favorite after its health benefits were discovered and its price dropped lower than that of the walnut, reported CNN. The price of the walnut went through the roof in 2007, so the Chinese hunted for a replacement. 

They came across the pecan, with 80 percent of the world's supply being produced in the US.

Buyers had problems getting a hold of the nuts they desired because pecan growers already had strong ties to US companies. The only way they could bring home what they wanted was with cash.

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"They literally took suitcases of money with them into the orchards," said Daniel Zedan, president of Nature's Finest Foods, an Illinois-based broker and marketer of tree nuts, noted CNN.

Zedan said they offered to pay 25 percent cash up front for a year's worth of pecans, with the rest of the payment due when the nuts reached Hong Kong harbor.

Now that US nut growers changed their mind, more than 20 percent of the American crop went to China last year, according to Investor Place. That number is expected to hit a third in 2013.

Rising Chinese sales are great for farmers in New Mexico, Georgia and Texas, but they've taken a hit on US and European food companies.

CNN even noted that several US companies are cutting back on their use of pecans, substituting them for other nuts.

"If you can buy pecans at $6 a pound or walnuts at $3, what are you going to put in your sticky buns?" Zedan asked.