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The US and Iran are Vying for Top Spot in Global Pistachios Market

18 Jan 2019 • by Natalie Aster

LONDON – During recent years, the demand for pistachios (a.k.a. Pistacia Vera) has increased remarkably owing to the surging health trends across the globe, a range of health benefits associated with this nut (including blood sugar control, weight management, mitigating risks of cardiovascular disease, amid others), and also increasing use across various food applications (deserts, confectionary, bakery, snacks, etc.). Besides, consumers are broadening their consumption timeframe: traditionally, the highest nuts consumption levels were registered during winter and holidays, and now we are witnessing an upturn in nuts consumption during spring and summer months; this is attributed majorly to the enhancing awareness of consumers about benefits that pistachios provide to human health. Moreover, excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of pistachios hulls have created nice opportunities for increasing use of these nuts in nutraceuticals. Presently, China and the US are the top global consumers of pistachios.

Globally, the pistachios consumption has demonstrated a substantial increase between 2015 and 2017, for clarity: in the 2015/16 crop season, the volume of the global pistachios consumption stood at slightly over 515.3 thousand metric tons, whilst in 2016-17 it ramped up to cross 674.6 thousand metric tons. In 2017/18, the global pistachios consumption totaled slightly above 650.8 thousand metric tons.

Production and consumption of pistachios during 2011/2012 – 2017/18 (in thousand metric tons)

Production and consumption of pistachios during 2011/2012 – 2017/18 (in thousand metric tons)

A spike in popularity of pistachios worldwide has encouraged more farmers to engage in pistachio growing. It is estimated that Pistachio trees have originated in the Middle East and Central Asia, however, today pistachios are cultivated in many parts of the world including such countries as Greece, Lebanon, the US, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey, India, among others. During the past few years, the highest production volume of pistachios was registered in the 2016/17 crop season – over 735 thousand metric tons – a YoY upturn from appr. 521.5 thousand metric tons in 2015/16. In 2017/18, the world’s pistachios output was about 586.2 thousand metric tons.  

The US and Iran are the dominant producers of pistachios on the global arena. Together these countries command the bulk share (around 85%) of the world’s total output volume. The two largest pistachio producers have been vying for the leading position both as producer and exporter over the past years. However, in the 2017/18 crop season, the top spot was held by the US – the country contributed about 47% to the global pistachios production. Meantime, Iran accounted for nearly 38% of the world’s output volume in the same crop season. Secondary producers of pistachios include Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan, and some others.

Top pistachios producers in 2017/18 Top pistachios producers in 2017/18

In the US, almost 99% of the domestic pistachios output comes from California, where appropriate climate along with precision agriculture practices allows to produce high-quality nuts. Furthermore, more than 70% of pistachios produced in the US goes for exports. In 2017/18, the US was the largest exporter of pistachios in the world, the country’s exports volume of in-shell pistachios exceeded 214 thousand metric tons. The major destinations for the US pistachios exports are China, the EU (especially Germany, Spain, Italy, France and the UK), South Korea, India, and China.

In Iran, the province of Kerman accounts for the major share of the domestic pistachios production. Pistachios present one of the country’s largest export commodities after crude oil (including its derivatives). In 2017/18, Iran exported over 155 thousand metric tons of in-shell pistachios. China, the EU countries, India, and Turkey are the key exports destinations for the Iranian pistachios.

Pistachios Market Future Outlook

The world’s pistachios market is anticipated to continue exhibiting healthy growth in the coming years, registering a CAGR of around 3-4%. Some of the key market growth engines include the increasing usage of pistachios as a flavouring agent in different food applications, mounting consumption of pistachios as a snack, rising knowledge of consumers about benefits of pistachios eating along with the increasing number of health-conscious consumers, among others. Meantime, the pistachios market growth may be restrained to some extent by the high cost of pistachios in comparison to other nuts.

Globally, sales of pistachios are projected to bring in revenues worth about USD 5 billion by 2026-end. Snacks, confectionary, and bakery are likely to be the fastest-growing end-use sectors for pistachios in the years ahead; the collective revenues generated from these end-uses are projected to cross USD 2.5 billion by late 2026. Whole and split pistachios are expected to remain preferred forms amid consumers worldwide. Revenues generated from sales of whole and split pistachios will likely account for more than three-fourths of overall sales through 2026. Meanwhile, powdered pistachios may become the top-selling form of these nuts, although, currently, this form commands a low revenue share of the overall pistachios market.

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