Nut prices could see major shake-up

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Almonds make up Fresno County's top crop but after years of rapid growth the industry now faces a challenge. (KFSN)

Almonds make up Fresno County's top crop but after years of rapid growth the industry now faces a challenge.

The valley almond industry is seeing a major market shake-up, less demand overseas and increased production as growers plant new acreage have caused prices to soften. "We've seen about a 20 percent decrease from pre-harvest when we thought the crop was definitely going to be short," said Jim Zion with Meridian Growers Managing Partner.

Zion says the almond industry was left holding the bag in India when prices started to dip. "With the market correction some of the buyers decided they didn't want to pick up the containers," he explained. "They didn't want to take the loss in the market or they didn't have enough capital."

China's another big buyer, but demand dipped because of the country's economic uncertainties.

The pistachio industry looks to rebound from a bad year. Many trees produced "blanks" in 2015. The 275 million pound output was the lowest output since 2003. Growers say a warm winter was a big factor.

This year should mark a turnaround. "They're hoping and do believe that they're going to have a better year this year as a result of having more chill hours and with the better rainfall totals," Richard Matoian with American Pistachio Growers said.

Matoian says the pistachio outlook is not as bad off as other nut crops. "We've seen with other commodities, whether they be almonds or walnuts, the price is really off and we've seen that our prices are off slightly, only about 5 percent."
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