American pistachio growers are in China this week to promote exports to that country. Sabrina Hill speaks with the Vice President of Global Marketing for American Pistachios, Judy Hirigoyen about the trip and other issues in the pistachio industry.
From the American Pistachio Growers Website:
American Pistachio Growers and Miss California 2015 to promote pistachios in China. Their 9-day blitz began December 10.
In addition to Bree Morse, Miss California 2015, the growers who will travel across China include Jimi Valov, Devin Aviles and Alison Nagatani, all from California’s Central Valley. The nine-day blitz stretches across China, focusing on four major cities (Shanghai, Ningbo, Xi’an, Beijing) and begins December 10. Their trip coincides with the Holidays and just ahead of Chinese New Year, a season when pistachios are a popular food and gift item.
“Our farmers are resilient and forward-thinking,” said Judy Hirigoyen, APG’s Vice President, Global Marketing. “We have an unusually small crop this year, but there are so many acres of new trees planted that they’re looking to the future and the need to build demand ahead of supply when the younger trees start producing.”
The Chinese market, even with its recent economic slowing, remains one of the largest consumers of pistachios in the world, with U.S. pistachio industry shipments to China increasing 145% from 2008-2013. Pistachios are viewed not only as a healthful snack, but an important plant-based protein source and a food that research suggests makes it a tasty tool in the pantry arsenal against diabetes. China has the world’s largest diabetes epidemic, overtaking the U.S. in prevalence.¹
Jimi Valov, Vice Chairman of APG and a third-generation grower of pistachios in the Central Valley, says he is looking forward to the trip to China. “Our competition in China is Iranian product, which at times is lower in price for a variety of reasons, one being that we have very strict food safety standards in the United States. We think it’s important for Chinese consumers to hear directly from us, to see the people who are growing their food.”
Alison Nagatani, a second-generation grower and mother of two small children, said, “As a mom and as the person who’s actually driving the tractor on our farm, I’m really excited about the opportunity to meet our customers face-to-face, especially moms, and to say, ‘Thank you for buying the pistachios I’ve worked so hard to produce.’”
According to California’s Department of Agriculture, out of more than 400 agricultural commodities grown in California, pistachios ranked in the top ten, valued at $1.6 billion in 2014. In crop year 2013/14, 65% of total production was exported, and greater China accounted for more than 25% of the total.²
“Pistachio growers are building relationships with their consumers, conveying the quality America is known for and the care that goes into their product. Their eye is on the future, when their children will be farming the same orchards,” concluded Hirigoyen.