Why Are Pistachios So Expensive?

Why Are Pistachios So Expensive?
Photo by Brenan Greene on Unsplash

If you have ever bought pistachios, then you know they can be very expensive. While we can all agree that they’re a great snack, for those of us on the broke side of life, pistachios can only be a treat we have every now and again.

And no, we’re not exaggerating, pistachios are in fact on the top ten list of most expensive nuts in the world. The other nuts on the list are almonds, chestnuts, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts, pecan, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts

In general, these nuts cost around US $10 per pound. But why are pistachios so expensive? Let’s explore the topic together.

The 3 Reasons Why Pistachio Nuts Are So Expensive?

Pistachios Are One Of The Most Expensive Nuts in the World
Photo by Brenan Greene on Unsplash

Pistachios are a type of tree nut that is related to the cashew family of nuts. It’s a green nut that has a light brown to nude hard casing that you have to crack open to get to the seed. They originated in western Asia and have a slightly sweet flavor. In the United States, pistachios are grown in just a handful of areas, mainly California, New Mexico and Arizona. In grocery stores, they are shelled or unshelled, salted or roasted.

They’re Not a Common Nut

Pistachios are not very common. They only grow in a few places and this is one reason for them being expensive. The trees require very particular conditions that are almost desert like. They can survive in poor soil as long as there is proper drainage. Cool winters where the ground does not get frozen and hot summers with low humidity so the fruit can ripen are also requirements. This puts the ideal geographic locations for the nut’s growth to just a few places.

Pistachio Trees Take Time to Reach Maturity

In addition to requiring very specific growth conditions, pistachio trees take quite a bit of time to reach maturity. Five years is the average time that it takes a tree to start bearing, and it won’t bear more than a handful of nuts in the beginning, taking some 15 or so years to attain peak production.

Once peak production is attained, a tree can be expected to produce about 40 pounds of nuts every other year. Yes, you read that right, pistachios are alternate bearing trees which means peak production is only attained every other year.

While the tree will bear fruit in its ‘off’ year, it will be of much lower quantity.

Harvesting Is Labor Intensive

The final and perhaps the most important reason for pistachios being expensive is the fact that the harvesting and processing of the nuts is pretty labor intensive. While machines are used in the process, humans control most of the equipment. Most pistachio farms actually hand sort their nuts to ensure quality.

Wrapping it up

So, as you can see, there are many reasons why pistachios are as expensive as they are. The bottom line is that it is a unique nut that requires specific geographic conditions for growth, the trees take a long time to reach maturity and it is a labor of love.

When you consider all these elaborate conditions needed for the growth and processing of pistachios, then it is easy to understand how the price point is attained.

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