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Aug 03 2011

Pistachios Account for 70% of Dried Fruit Exports

By Sadeq Dehqan Head of Union of Exporters of Dried Fruits said pistachios account for some 70 percent of the country's export of dried fruits.

"Last year (ended March 20), some 150,000 tons of pistachios were exported. This year, new crops have not yet entered the market and pistachio harvest begins in September," Mohammad Hassan Shamsfard told Iran Daily.

He said last year pistachios worth $1.136 billion were exported whereas the total value of 437,000 tons of dried fruit export stood at $1.667 billion.

"Pistachios, raisin and dates are the three main dried fruits exported. Last year, some 130,000 tons of raisin worth $307 million were exported while 105,000 tons of dates worth a total of $139 million were also shipped abroad," he noted.

He said export of dried fruits in 2010 increased by 24.5 percent in terms of weight and 25 percent in terms of value, compared to the figures for 2009.

"In 2009, some 120, 000 tons of pistachios were exported. One year later, this figure grew by 26 percent."

He recalled that the average production of pistachios amounts to 200,000 tons. He predicted that this year about 180,000 tons of pistachios would be produced.

"Every year, 30,000 tons of pistachios are consumed domestically while the remaining portion is exported," he noted.

Shamsfard said the US is Iran's main rival in global markets for pistachios.

"Of course, in recent years Turkey, Greece and a number of other countries have expanded their pistachio gardens. At present, the US produces 200,000 tons of pistachios per annum with Iran and America each taking 50 percent of the global markets," he noted.

In years in which Iran's pistachio production declines due to various reasons, the Americans take a greater share of the market, added the official.

However, he said, if Iranian pistachios are sufficiently supplied in the market, the Americans will be forced to present pistachios at a lower price," he noted.

He recalled the price of pistachios in the global markets varies from $7000 to $9000 per ton.

"Iran produces the best pistachios in the world with a better taste compared to pistachios produced in other countries. Nevertheless, due to mechanized harvesting system and modern irrigation, America produces more pistachios," said Shamsfard.

At present, on the average yield of pistachio in Iranian gardens is 800 kg to one ton per hectare while the figure in the US is three tons per hectare, he pointed out.

The official emphasized that Iran mostly exports pistachios to Asian countries whereas until recently Europe was the main importer.

"Some countries maintain that the level of aflatoxin in Iranian pistachios is higher than the permissible level as defined in Europe. Furthermore, due to sanctions we face restrictions in exporting pistachios to European states," he said.

© Iran Daily 2011

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