Pecans seem to be falling behind in sales compared to other tree nuts. Pecan producers now want to be seen as more than just nuts or an ingredient in holiday pies and desserts. This is why the industry has launched its first ever nationwide marketing campaign. While pecans are primarily seen as baking ingredients by Americans, other nuts are associated with nutrition snacks and pecan producers want to tap into this market.
In 2016, The US Department of Agriculture approved a Federal Marketing Order allowing funds to be collected from pecan producers and used for marketing, data collection and research. Generally, nuts have benefited from the high demand for healthy snacks, especially amongst millennial shoppers, leaving the pecan behind until now. The marketing campaign plans to help consumers think of pecans as a source of nutrition as well by using the slogan “American Pecans: The Original Supernut.”
Pecans were more popular than almonds until 1950 when the almond industry got its marketing order. Yearly, around 300 million pounds of pecans are harvested compared to the two billion pounds of almonds. However, funding from the Federal Marketing Order is being used for research to support the claim pecans possess health benefits.
In competition with other tree nuts like walnuts and almonds, pecans have to provide evidence that they can be just as beneficial. The other nuts have benefited from research for years. Pecans might have a chance of competing with the other nuts considering that studies have found that pecans may be able to reduce heart and diabetes risk according to a recent pilot study.
Eighty percent of the world’s pecans are supplied by the US pecan industry. If the claimed health benefit of pecans can be further substantiated, companies can consider manufacturing products like cereal or snack bars.
It’s said that 20 percent of meals are snacks. Therefore, healthier snacks will be a focus for many food service companies. According to Euromonitor, the sales of snacks jumped 17.4 percent from the year 2000 to 2015. It was also found that the global healthy snack market was valued at $21.2 billion in 2016. In fact, until 2025 this category is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.1 percent, according to a report from Grande View Research. If pecans can advance their way into the snack market, the consumer demand would most likely go up.
Over the past few years, thousands of acres of new pecan trees have been planted in preparation for the increase in demand. Though the pecan industry is ready for the change, it is yet to be determined how successful they will be in making it.