Do you love nuts in your desserts or on their own? Or are you a pistachio lover specifically, and often ask yourself ‘why are pistachios so expensive?’. Has the high price of these delicacies ever become a barrier, keeping you from having them when you’ve been craving them?
Or have you ever caught yourself wondering ‘why are pistachios so expensive?’. What causes these tiny, delicious, and healthy seeds to have such high prices? We have the answers to your questions right here. If you want to know more read on!
A part of the cashew family, pistachios are basically seeds that come from trees. They hold a lot of nutritional value and are consumed by many people around the globe. They are full of unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, and minerals that’ll keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol in check.
Your doctor might’ve suggested this dry fruit to you as well and seeing the high prices in the market might’ve made you wonder the reasons behind them. If so, then this will be of great help to you, to understand ‘why are pistachios so expensive?’.
Why Are Pistachios So Expensive?
The market price of pistachios expected in 2020-21 was $2.75 per pound (which is around $6.06 per kilogram) which to most can be too high of a price to pay for such small portions even with all the nutritional value. Here are some of the reasons behind ‘why are pistachios so expensive?’:
Even though pistachios can grow in poor quality soil, they still need adequate root drainage which means that they can grow in only some specific areas that have soil that holds the water for long intervals. These regions are Iran, Afghanistan, California, etc.
The soil they grow in needs to be dry, deep, and preferably sandy loam soils with a high concentration of calcium carbonate which means pistachios grow in a very limited number of areas.
Pistachio trees are very picky with the climate condition they grow in, needing specific weather conditions to thrive in. These conditions are hot summer and cooler winters. Providing such conditions can be a very difficult task for the farmers, further limiting their growth.
This will then cause the prices to skyrocket as pistachios will have to be imported by the countries that don’t have enough pistachio production happening within.
Even in regions where they are usually produced, any anomaly in the climate causing cooler summers and warmer winters will make the production of the crop lower, giving a rise to the prices.
One of the major states that produce pistachios is California as it has the perfect land and climate conditions for the crop. However, the problem with California is its unpredictable rain and drought conditions.
When California is going through a period of lower rainfall, the crop will definitely be affected and so the farmer will have to increase irrigation. This will increase the expenses of the farmer as the price of water will also increase and so will the price of the pistachios.
Pistachios are labor-intensive crops as not only do they have to be handpicked (though recently many farmers have opted to go for machines that are less time-consuming but more expensive) but also sorted by hand. The more a worker has to handle a crop the more their pay increases because of the time they spend working.
Each worker needs to be paid at least the minimum wage and at times this increases due to the high demand for labor. Multiplying this cost with the many employees required for picking and sorting shows how the farmers’ expenses increase a lot due to the labor cost.
5. Hand Sorting
When pistachios are picked they are sorted by hand according to their looks and the purposes they fulfill. As an example, the good-looking ones go for direct sales and the crushed ones are used for toppings, etc.
This is a very time-consuming process in which the workers judge each and every seed which not only elongates the time taken for the seeds to get to the market but also increases labor costs.
6. Expensive For Farmers
Farmers prefer crops that reduce expenses and give higher profits. Some of them do this by growing huge quantities of cheaper crops and others by growing larger quantities of expensive crops.
The problem with growing pistachios is that there aren’t many ways the farmers can reduce the expenses. The prices of land, water, and labor are always going to remain high but the trees will only produce a certain amount of seeds which increases the expenses while the yield remains the same.
7. Peak Production
The peak production periods of pistachio trees come every other year meaning that the tree will produce seeds one year and not the other.
Due to this farmers need to have two crops so when one isn’t producing the other does. The trees that aren’t producing still need water, care, and take land which all adds to the expenses.
The overall production of the trees is also very low, one tree produces around 50 pounds of nut each year whereas a brazil nut tree produces 200 pounds in the same duration.
So, a pistachio crop will require more land to allow more trees to be planted that will further need more water during irrigation and labor.
8. Health Benefits
The immense health benefits of pistachios have given a rise to their popularity. While this is good for the consumers as they know a shortcut to achieve their health goals but it’s also a reason for the high price of the seeds (that many consider a nut).
They are also very popular during the holiday seasons and in the cooking industry where they are used in many dishes and sauces. This results in a higher demand high while the supply remains the same and so the prices increase.
The above factors give a clear image of the reasons ‘why are pistachios so expensive?’. The major reasons are the extra expenses they create for farmers and the difference in how many pistachios are being produced per annum compared to the high demand amongst consumers.
So the next time you see this expensive nut in the market you might not hesitate as much in adding it to your cart knowing how many difficulties the farmer faced and the sheer amount of effort that was put into the production of those pistachios.