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Pine nuts, the future of the market increasingly in the Far East

Besana takes stock of world consumption and production

During the last edition of the annual Nut Fruit Conference, the world congress on dried fruit organized by Inc (International nut & dried fruit council), Riccardo Calcagni, CEO of the Besana Group active worldwide in the production, processing and marketing of dried and dried fruit, has highlighted the current situation of the production and consumption of pine nuts and expressed forecasts for the future.

In 2004, the Mediterranean countries produced a total of about 5,500 tons of shelled pine nuts. In 2010 the quantities had already dropped to 5,100 tons, but the collapse took place precisely in that year, when the Leptoglossus occidentalis (also known as "pine bug"), imported from the Americas, began to spread, so much so that halve production in just one year, which in 2011 reached 2,395 tons. To this scourge was then added that of fires, which have continued all these years causing further drops in production. In 2013, for example, we recorded only 950 tons of pine nuts in the entire Mediterranean basin. In 2019, production stood at 2,040 tons, but for next year the quantities are expected to decrease: 375 tons from Turkey (instead of 800 from last year), 350 from Italy (instead of 650 in 2019), 300 from Spain (the only one rising, from 250 at the last harvest) and 100 from Portugal (instead of 300).

Calcagni points out that from 2010 to 2020, prices have increased up to 136%: from 28 to 66 Euros per kilo. "Given this situation, the world of the pesto industry is essentially moving on two tracks: on the one hand it is reducing the quantities of product in the packages, replacing it for example with cashews, on the other hand it is buying more and more product from the Far East" . As Calcagni pointed out in the Far East, the product is not lacking, but the logistical blocks on the borders imposed by China due to the pandemic, do not give too many certainties to producers. Specifically, in Asia the major producing countries are Russia, China and North Korea, which, again at the level of shelled pine nuts, could go from 5,100 to 12,000 tons, from 3,600 to 10,500, from 3,000 respectively in just one year. to 8,750. Afghanistan and Pakistan, from the last year's 1,500 tons will increase to 2,900 and 2,800 tons, according to the Chinese chamber of commerce for imports and exports. "Due to Covid, there may be delays both in the final processing of the product and in its distribution to markets around the world".

On the consumption front, it was highlighted how the increase in the prices of Mediterranean pine nuts has generated a progressive decline in demand which over the last year has been aggravated by the health emergency, which has strongly impacted the ice cream industry, the sector catering and the consumption of pine nuts “on the go”, given the growing number of smartworking workers. The drop in consumption outside the home was only partially offset by the growth in home baking. The anti-contagion measures imposed by national governments have in fact pushed an increasing number of people to cook at their homes and the Mediterranean pine nut is a particularly popular ingredient for homemade recipes.

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EFA News - European Food Agency