Submitted to: Southeastern Pecan Growers Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 9, 2010
Publication Date: September 15, 2010
Citation: Wood, B.W. 2010. Pecan production under a "Food Systems" paradigm. In: Proceedings of the Southeastern Pecan Growers Meeting, February 27-28, 2010, San Destin Florida. 103:94-102. Interpretive Summary: The competitive fitness of the US pecan industry is challenged by other nut industries competing in the marketplace for food dollars. Competitiveness is dependent on successful integration of philosophies consistent with viable marketing, while simultaneously ensuring compatibility with profitability and environmental constraints. This article examines the evolution of pecan production paradigms from inception of the US pecan industry until the present time, and provides evidence regarding the future evolution of the pecan production paradigm within the context of better linking pecan nutrient composition to human health. This information can assist the pecan industry in becoming better postured to target niche markets that are likely to arise in the future, and to ensure continued viability as an industry, while also substantially benefitting consumers.
Technical Abstract: Advances in pecan production technologies and strategies over the last century have been impressive. This progress has been driven as a consequence of societal evolution and its associated forces. This article briefly reviews the evolution of the U.S. pecan industry within the context of basic husbandry paradigms and proposes that the U.S. pecan industry is showing evidence of transitioning to a new paradigm that better fits the needs of an evolving world society. This new paradigm integrates production, sustainability and human nutrition. There is increasing evidence of simultaneous co-evolution toward this new paradigm by several key agricultural crops. It is proposed that those food-crop industries that most successfully embrace this new paradigm will possess a competitive advantage in the marketplace; thus, affecting the “bottom line” of all those involved in the growing, processing, and selling of pecan nutmeats. It is suggested that the time has come for producers, shellers, and processors of pecan nuts to pool limited resources to sponsor clinical research evaluating the health benefits of pecan within the context of the major causes of death in Western society. Additionally, there is need to better ascertain the qualitative and quantitative composition of pecan nutmeats, and whether there is merit in tapping the natural variability in Carya to improve upon traits beneficial to human nutrition, and whether these characteristics can be substantially influenced by orchard management practices.