What is the FMO for Pecans and What Does it Mean for Consumers?

Jeff Worn Follow Jeff
The Federal Marketing Order (FMO) is a program that is put together through the USDA to help an industry raise funds from within the industry to market the product to the domestic market.  The FMO for pecans helps us:
  • Gather research (with the help of universities),
  • Work together on regulations with FDA
  • Produce commercials with nutritional research data found through the studies (think the "Got Milk" campaigns of the 90's).

The FMO is now officially in tact. It’s in process of electing a board from across the US. The FMO allows the opportunity to give industry and consumer reports into what is actually happening (statistically) within the pecan industry. We will be able to gather and show crop projections, holdings (inventory), etc. to help predict markets. Until the FMO, individual entities provided monetary donations for marketing pecans. Now farmers pay assessments per pound they produce.

What does this mean for farmers?

It should mean the world to pecan growers. It means stabilization. It means having an initiative in place that is marketing the product that they have in the ground. Growing pecans is not a short-term project; it takes ten years before they start to produce well. That being said, we can’t have a short term fix for a long-term problem. We have to have a long term initiative in place to give our farmers a hope that there will be a lucrative market in place for this inventory ten years down the road.

In the big scheme of things, our industry is extremely small. Pecans are at 300 million lbs., give or take, annually. Walnuts at 1.2 billion, and almonds are at 2 billion lbs +/- annually. Almost every almond and every walnut are produced in California; not any other states. By 2020, they’re projecting almonds could be at 2.5 or 3 billion lbs. We’re really a drop in the bucket.

What does this mean for the end consumer?

I think the FMO will redefine the pecan to consumers. As a healthy nut, a nut that you can eat, as a snack, not just as a dessert.

The FMO is not the pacifier in our mouth that will just make us happy for the next ten years. The work is just about to begin. We as producers have to be diligent and smart and work hard in what we do with this FMO to benefit from it.

What does it mean for pecan prices? More stability. You should see less fluctuation. You shouldn’t see pecans at $12 one year and $7 the next.  Instead, you might see them at $10 and $8, respectively. As we get more organized and as data gets better to our customers and the retailers, it will help them make better buying decisions on the inventory they need.

The bottom line: the FMO should allow all of us to make better and more stabilized decisions; all the way to the consumer.

Topics: Nutrition