University of Maryland Extension

Pecan Pies Expensive this Holiday Season

As I was shopping last week in preparation for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner, I couldn’t help but notice the astronomical price of the pecan pies – at one store, more than $30 for a twelve inch pie! Fortunately, my family is more of the apple and pumpkin variety. Nonetheless, I was flabbergasted at the inflated price, which prompted me to do a little research.

Apparently a warning of the high price of pecans was previously published by some of the agriculture newspapers, but if you missed those stories as I did you’ll be interested to find out the reasoning.

Drought in the south severely affected pecan harvests; this year’s yields were down about 43% in Texas and 55% in Louisiana as compared to yields last year. Since between 80 and 95% of the world’s pecans are grown in the southern United States, the drought has hit the world’s supply hard.

To add to the problem of decreased supply, demand from Asia has been increasing steadily over the past few years – increasing almost 900% between 2000 and 2009. The Chinese especially enjoy them around the Chinese New Year, which falls early this year and thus closer to our American winter holidays.

To further complicate the market, the Chinese prefer their pecans like we eat pistachios—roasted in the shell. This is contrary to how most U.S. consumers buy pecans—shelled. Chinese buyers get the nuts directly from farmers, so many pecans never even make it to U.S. processing facilities.

While high prices might mean headaches for pecan lovers at home, the situation has increased profits for American pecan growers. That’s good news for the folks who were hit hard with the drought this year.

If you’re a fan of pecan pie, you might save a little money making your own this year. Although the price of pecans themselves is higher than average, with a little work from your oven and your rolling pin you can make your own pecan pie for less than $15.

Whatever type of pie graces your family’s holiday table, I wish you and your family a season full of joyous memories and look forward to a prosperous year in 2014!


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