FRESNO, Calif., July 1 With the 2009 pistachio harvest little more than two months away, pistachio growers and processors are anticipating a promising crop year with production expected to exceed 2008 levels. Growing conditions have been excellent and are expected to yield a high-quality crop of nutrient-rich pistachios to meet increasing demand.
Harvest for this year's pistachio crop will begin in September and is estimated at more than 425 million pounds with rising wholesale prices due to tight global supply. The Western Pistachio Association (WPA) reports domestic and international prices have risen due to continued strong consumer demand for pistachio's nutritional benefits and appetite appeal.
"We are on track for a vintage pistachio season in terms of crop quality," said pistachio grower and Chairman of the WPA, Mike Woolf of California Valley Land Company in Huron, CA. "Harvest lies before us, of course, but indications of a good year are strong - especially considering stable-to-slightly increased pistachio acreage, as well as cooperative weather throughout the growing season."
While preparing for the upcoming harvest, the industry is also enhancing its food safety procedures to coincide with the arrival of the new crop this fall.
"Nearly a decade ago, in 2000, the U.S. pistachio industry was progressive in establishing proactive food safety practices; today our industry is determined to make those practices and procedures stronger than ever," said Richard Matoian, WPA Executive Director. "As an industry, we are bolstering food safety guidelines to ensure pistachios are uncompromisingly safe, wholesome and delicious - just as the food industry and consumers should expect."
Earlier this year, the pistachio industry was affected by its first-ever precautionary recall due to potential Salmonella contamination. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Web site reports no conclusive evidence that pistachio products were ever linked to any cases of human illness. Additionally, the single processor involved in the precautionary action has worked closely with local, state and federal regulators to implement aggressive safety measures and has recently returned to full pistachio processing and roasting operations.
"The pistachio industry is moving forward with optimism, cooperation and a commitment to world-class safety standards so that everyone who enjoys our pistachios can enjoy them with confidence," said Matoian.
About the U.S. Pistachio Industry
Collectively, California, Arizona and New Mexico represent 99.99 percent of the nation's pistachio production. California comprises 98.5 percent of the total with 198,500 acres planted throughout 22 different counties. There are more than 600 growers within the pistachio community, and the annual "farm gate" value of pistachios represents $540 million to the California economy. Pistachio growers and processors employ more than 5,200 full-time workers in California alone. Pistachios are California's third largest nut commodity, behind almonds and walnuts. Foreign exports represent nearly 60 percent of overall pistachio production, with the remainder of the nuts staying within the United States.
The Western Pistachio Association
The Western Pistachio Association is a grower based agricultural trade association representing pistachio growers in California, Arizona and New Mexico. The organization works on issues vital to growers and activities that affect the U.S. pistachio industry. Pistachio nutrition research and promotion of the heart-healthy properties of pistachios are key activities conducted by the association.
SOURCE Western Pistachio Association