Wise said China’s near-term demand would largely depend on what portion of that supply has been used up now and how much will be used during January’s Lunar New Year celebrations.

“China has major celebrations in September and January, during which many pecans are used and consumed,” she said.

Wise explained that a major reason exportation to China has been a boon for pecan growers is Chinese buyers typically purchase the product in-shell.

“The Chinese usually buy directly from the grower and require they provide them with larger in-shell nuts, so the product usually doesn’t go through the shelling process before it’s exported.”

Pena, however, expressed his concern that exportation of premium pecans to other countries makes fewer high-quality pecans available to U.S. consumers and “applies upward pricing pressure” on pecans used for domestic consumption.

“It’s a matter of the industry finding the right balance between domestic and export demand and working to ensure there are adequate supplies of quality pecans to meet both,” he said. Wise noted that while exports to China more directly benefit the larger growers who sell to them, they also provide a benefit to smaller growers.

“The pecan market has been strong for the past several years and producers will continue to receive higher prices for their product,” she said. “It’s also likely that prices paid to growers this year will be the highest they’ve ever been.”

Pena said he hopes the U.S. pecan industry will be able to continue to meet the growing demand for its product and that American consumers will continue to have access to high-quality pecans.