Ban on pis­ta­chios from Iran ben­e­fits Cal­i­for­nia

Los Angeles Times - - Business - P.J. Huff­s­tut­ter

Cal­i­for­nia pis­ta­chio grow­ers are find­ing them­selves the un­ex­pected ben­e­fi­cia­ries of U.S. trade sanc­tions against Iran.

AU.S. ban on Ira­nian pis­ta­chios went into ef­fect on Wed­nes­day, as the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ratch­ets up eco­nomic pres­sure on Iran to open its nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties to in­ter­na­tional in­spec­tion. Pres­i­dent Obama signed the ban July 1.

It’s good news for Amer­i­can pis­ta­chio farm­ers, who have long vied with Iran for dom­i­nance in the U.S.’s $700mil­lion do­mes­tic mar­ket, as well as over­seas. And it’s par­tic­u­larly wel­come for Golden State farm­ers. More than 98% of U.S. pis­ta­chios come from Cal­i­for­nia, which pro­duces about 375 mil­lion pounds an­nu­ally; the bulk of that pro­duc­tion comes from the San Joaquin Val­ley.

In re­cent years, the U.S. has sur­passed Iran as the world’s largest grower. Cal­i­for­nia farm­ers have boosted their yields and nearly dou­bled the acreage of their groves, while farm­ers in Iran have seen their yields cut by poor weather.

Iran ships only about 1 mil­lion pounds of pis­ta­chios to the U.S. a year. But in­dus­try of­fi­cials said the lack of com­pe­ti­tion — even if only tem­po­rary — could bol­ster do­mes­tic sales for U.S. farm­ers.

Still, those Ira­nian pis­ta­chios have to go some­where, said Richard Ma­toian, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Western Pis­ta­chio Assn., a trade group that rep­re­sents about 400 farm­ers in Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona and New Mex­ico. At least 65% of the pis­ta­chios grown in the U.S. are ex­ported over­seas. Cal­i­for­nia farm­ers have been mak­ing an ag­gres­sive push into emerg­ing mar­kets, par­tic­u­larly China p.j.huff­s­tut­

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