With the prices of almonds and other California-grown nuts rising due to severe drought conditions, the move by the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Pecans, also known as the Georgia Pecan Commission, to change its marketing strategies is paying off. Commissioners believe now is the right time for pecans.
For years, the Georgia Pecan Commission’s marketing efforts targeted consumers directly and through restaurant and food service promotions. Previous campaigns were based on recipes for the home cook with occasional promotions by chefs, but research showed that promoting pecans to home cooks did not create enough demand to sustain pecans’ share of consumer tree nut consumption. These campaigns also did not reach sectors of the economy that require large inventories of nuts — particularly in manufacturing and ingredients.
The commission learned that pecan-based products lagged behind almond, peanut and pistachio products: A markedly smaller percentage of new pecan-based products were in development, and food manufacturers’ focus on research and development using pecans as an ingredient also had dropped.
Historically, the largest distribution channel for pecans has been ingredients, mostly for use in baked goods, ice creams and confections. Additional major categories are ingredients and grocery.
In 2014, the commission radically altered its marketing focus to think “Beyond the Pie” by promoting the use of pecans as a product ingredient. The commission shifted its promotional efforts away from the consumer, restaurant and food service industries, which are the smallest market segment, toward food manufacturers and ingredients. The awareness-building campaign now targets major food companies likely to develop exciting new products using pecans.
The Center for Pecan Innovation was established to work with food researchers at the University of Georgia and with an Atlanta-area chef to develop pecan products distributed as samples at major food conferences, including the Institute of Food Technologists Exposition (IFT Expo) and the Snack Food Association Exposition(SNAXPO).
These efforts demonstrate to companies what can be done with pecans in all forms, from pieces to flour to oil. Frequent sample products include asiago-jalapeno cheese crisps, graham crackers and chocolate energy bars as well as flavored nuts for snacking, which is a $370 billion business in the United States.
The campaign also includes regular outreach to companies directly, offering pecan pieces, meal and butter at no expense to their research and development (R&D) teams. More than 250 companies take advantage of this offer, including global giants like Frito-Lay and M&M/Mars.
Now is the right time for pecans. Let us send your company pecan products for R&D today.