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Pistachios: full story needs to be told

November 7, 2022 at 11:16 AM, Der AUDITOR
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TEHRAN. With production estimated nearly 15% lower than last year, prospects are far from encouraging for Iran’s pistachio exporters. Suppliers are also coming to terms with the fact that competition with the United States or Turkey is next to impossible.

Suppliers insist on full story

At 500-700 kg/ha average yields are a far cry from the 2.5-3.0 mt/ha produced in the USA or in Turkey, where inshell production is expected to nearly triple to 200,000 mt this season. While official bodies such as the Iranian Chamber of Commerce hold that exports are directly linked to the volumes produced, suppliers point out that this is not the whole story.

According to the Iranian Pistachio Association the country’s exports declined sharply from 140,000 mt in 2020/2021 to 85,000 mt in 2021/2022. As production is expected to range 14.8% lower in 2022/2023 at 115,000 mt exports should only reach 72,400 mt. Suppliers, however, emphasise that the country has the potential to export up to 80% of production, which would, in theory amount to 92,000 mt and thereby even top last year’s exports.

Trouble, however, is an abundance of problems, which are not fully reflected in official reports. While The Tehran Times recently highlighted the impact of climate change and drought on production with farmers forced to dig illegal wells, no mention is made of political or financial restraints. Not only do the sanctions render financial transactions difficult but exporters are also obliged to change foreign currency incomes into Iran’s domestic Forex Management System (NIMA), which fails to credit market prices. In addition, the regime’s current violent crackdown on protesters is causing disruptions and giving rise to a high degree of uncertainty.

Suppliers are also careful to point out that, contrary to popular belief, the quality of exported pistachios is not better than of the ones consumed domestically. The highest-quality pistachios are rather consumed locally. Since the United States have ramped up production in the past ten years and Turkey is emerging as a serious competitor Iranian pistachios need to be sold at low prices, which is problematic considering the challenges the climate crisis is presenting for planting and harvesting.

Prices peak for new crop

While demand for the new crop initially drove up prices, in particular for Akbari and Ahmad Aghaei pistachios which tend to be used for luxury products, the situation has now changed again. Prices range EUR 0.06-0.16/kg (USD 0.06-0.16/kg) lower than last week. Yet, it should be noted that they presently still stand about 25% higher than last year, which will hardly help to revive export demand this season.

Pistachios, Iran

Inshell, NO

EUR/kg*

USD/kg*

Ahmad Aghaei, 24-26

12.28

12.22

Ahmad Aghaei, 26-28

11.82

11.77

Akbari, 20-22

13.71

13.65

Akbari 22-24

13.17

13.11

Kale Ghuchi, 22-24

12.46

12.40

Kale Ghuchi 24-26

11.93

11.87

Fandoghi, 30-32

9.97

9.92

Fandoghi 32-34

9.61

9.57

FOB Iran

*Please note that these reference prices apply to an order volume of 1 mt. Prices may range lower for higher volumes.

 

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