Pistachios: toxic approach

December 12, 2022 at 11:33 AM , Der AUDITOR
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TEHRAN. Iran’s pistachio exports to the EU slumped by 39% in terms of value between January and September as compared with the same period last year. While local media reports highlight that drought, economic sanctions and the fierce competition with the USA have contributed to this development, suppliers in Iran are rather concerned about the high level of toxic residues.

39% slump in exports to EU

According to statistical office Eurostat the EU imported pistachios worth EUR 930 million (USD 979 million) in the first three quarters. While imports from the United States rose by 19% to EUR 529 million (USD 557 million), shipments from Iran declined by 39% to EUR 95 million (USD 100 million) as opposed to the EUR 154 million (USD 162 million) recorded in the same period last year. Suppliers are particularly concerned over the sharp decline in inshell exports to the EU. While Iran’s shipments of pistachio kernels only declined by 6% to EUR 58 million (USD 61 million), inshell pistachio exports slumped by 59% to EUR 37 million (USD 39 million). This is particularly troubling as the EU spends more on inshell pistachios than on kernels. The bloc imported inshell pistachios worth EUR 650 million (USD 684 million) and kernels worth EUR 280 million (USD 295 million) in the first nine months of the year.

Quality is the issue. Although Iran used to ship large volumes of inshell pistachios to the EU, the country has lost market shares in recent years due to aflatoxin residues. Most recently the UK detected high levels of aflatoxin in a bakery product imported from Germany, which were traced to pistachio kernels imported from Iran. Although the European Union’s RASFF has issued around four alerts concerning high residue levels of ochratoxin A and aflatoxin A found in pistachios shipped from the USA, Turkey and Iran since November, local suppliers are convinced that buyers in the EU will switch to Turkey as the nuts produced here contain lower toxin levels.

Trouble is that Iran’s pistachio producers need to change their approach if they want to keep their European customers. Farmers could, for instance, use sulphur instead of poison to kill pests. Although this may cause production costs to rise, it should be noted that buyers in the EU are prepared to pay more for products that meet European quality standards and for organic nuts. Suppliers, in addition, urge producers to consider that residual toxins will also become an issue in other countries as well in the next few years.

Domestic vs export prices

Although prices have risen in the domestic market, the opposite is the case in the export market as prices have dropped by 2-4% since November. This trend is driven by the continuing protests throughout the country and the government’s violent response, which is disrupting business, foreign trade and exports.

Pistachios, Iran

Inshell, NO



Ahmad Aghaei, 24-26



Ahmad Aghaei, 26-28



Akbari, 20-22



Akbari 22-24



Kale Ghuchi, 22-24



Kale Ghuchi 24-26



Fandoghi, 30-32



Fandoghi, 32-34



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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