Following many years of research by the Technical Institute of fruit trees and vines (ITAF), Algeria is now launching into pistachio production. Mahmoud Mendil, Director of the ITAF believes that the pistachio sector has real possibilities and could see part of the production being exported. He says that “Europe would be a good destination, Europe is a nearby market and consumption of this fruit is the highest in the world”.
Currently, pistachio production covers 90 hectares. By 2025, acreage should reach 50,000 hectares. To reach this objective, services from the Ministry of Agriculture, led by ITAF, will carry out a campaign to increase awareness amongst farmers of the product and give them 100 pistachio plants for free and a kilo of seeds for every farmer interested.
Worldwide pistachio production is estimated to reach 450,000 tons a year. Iran and the USA are the two main producing countries. The EU, China and Hong Kong are the main importers. The USA needs their pistachio market to grow as the record harvest this year reached 200,000 tons- triple that recorded last year. A campaign was carried out to “Eat pistachios, not crisps!”, aiming to increase the consumption of pistachios as prices plummeted. California had less dry weather and a cold winter, good for pistachio trees following many years of hard drought. Acreage has also increased in the USA, motivated by the high prices recorded in previous years (a 40% price increase over three years as pistachios were quite rare). However, this year is the opposite with a record harvest- American pistachios have already decreased in price by 10-20%.
The abundance of American pistachios is mostly affecting their Iranian competition; prices of pistachios from Iran have already plummeted by 35%. Iranian pistachios are not as highly rated due to their reputation, despite it being under control now, as having the presence of fungi. They also have commercialisation problems from sanctions. Iranian pistachios are rare this year, as they are every two years, reaching only 60,000 tons. So, with few pistachios and low prices, it is already difficult for Iranian producers. To add to their hard situation, they could lose their main export market - China. Last year two thirds of Chinese pistachio imports came from Iran, but this year they are being replaced by American pistachios that are deploying a worldwide marketing strategy.