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Pistachios abound could spell problems for Kern producers

Pistachio Trees
Posted at 4:57 PM, Nov 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-13 19:57:03-05
  • In April of 2022, the Producer Price Index for pistachios reached it's peak before dropping and stagnating from June of 2022 to August of 2023. According to September data, the PPI for pistachios dropped sharply to a 10-year low.
  • 23ABC spoke with Jay Kroeker, a partner with Starrh Farms, who said this year could be the decision maker for producer in and around the area on whether they pivot away from producing the snack nut.


Last week I had an email roll across my inbox and it was a newsletter from the California Farm Bureau and there was an article in there about the production of pistachios and the potential over supply and price drops, so it made me wonder: where does that stand for producers in Kern county?

So I checked the Producer Price Index, which currently sits at its lowest number in a decade.

But what is the PPI? According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, The PPI program measures the average change over time in the selling prices received by domestic producers for their output.

In April of 2022, the PPI on pistachios hit the highest number on record, before stagnating from June of last year to August of 2023, and then dropping significantly in the most recent data in September.

Looking at 2022 data from the Kern County Farm Bureau, almost 168,000 acres are dedicated to pistachios, over double the land they did a decade ago.

“It's sort of an 'Okay, what point does the market reach saturation?' And, you know, the price drops considerably from one year to the next. I think most growers can probably stomach a year like this, but everybody was a little bit nervous about what could be coming down to pipe,” said Jay Kroeker.

That’s Jay Kroeker, a partner with Starrh Farms in and around the Shafter area and he said just a few years ago, they pivoted away from almonds partly due to COVID related shutdowns on exports, but in this instance he believes this year will be an indicator on if Ag producers need to pivot again in the future.

“I think this year is the bellwether for what, what could be ahead. So I think this year tells us that, yeah, i think we've reached, if not saturation, that we're getting really close to it."

As of right now, new PPI Data for October has not been released, so only time will tell where the market goes from here.

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