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Prices on imported pine nuts will soon take a major trip north, if pine nut prices in Pakistan are any indicator of the broader market.
Chilgozas (pine nuts) as usual remained the most expensive dry fruit this season, with price ranging between Rs 2,000 $20.40 unpeeled USD and Rs 3,200 *$32.60 USD per kg peeled ,
The demand for Chilogoza pine nuts and resulting price spike began about 3 years ago -
Market rate of Chilgoza ranges between Rs1,800 to Rs2,400 per kg in the provincial capital. Dry fruit sellers say that price of pine nuts was Rs1,200 per kg last year but this year it witnessed unprecedented rise.
Chilgoza is a common dry fruit in winter for the natives in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but now it has become the most expensive and rare fruit. Few years back vendors used to sell baked as well as raw Chilgoza on donkey carts and handcarts in bazaars and streets in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ahead of and during winter season.
Retailers say that Chilgoza is in short supply from Afghanistan, Balochistan and northern areas of the country as a result its prices shot up tremendously. But forest conservators term export to China as one of the major factors of the increase in its price.
The 2012 price report for Pakistan Kernels reports multiple reasons for the price spike, including the natural production flux in pine trees. I would note that the 2013 spike is 20 30 % more than the 2010 pricing, when imported pine nuts hit any all time high in USD. Two years ago, imported pine nuts from China were selling for $35.00 lb and up. I would anticipate that by the time pesto peaks in late June and early July we will see prices around $40.00 per pound .
While the article does address pine nuts from Pakistan and India being imported by China, for the cosmetic industry, it does not note that the Chiloza nut is increasingly being presented as the Mediterranean pine nut, or Italian Pine Nuts (see picture above). Additionally, this article notes the expanding market for pine nuts used in the preparation of cosmetics.
Of course, incorporating the Chiloza nut into the mix with P.Pinea is an unnecessary fraud on the market place. The Chiloza pine nuts is a lovely pine nut kernel and can stand on its own merits. The problem is processing. Most Chiloza nuts are processed by hand in unsupervised settings. American consumers have a problem with that, and prefer to believe that the pine nut kernels they are consuming are being processed in state of the art European type settings. Such mixing and blending of pine nut species is also contrary to Codex and other global standards. It has been with no small dismay, that I watch these abuses on unwary American consumers.
Even more disheartening, I have seen American pine nuts entering the market place without their shell and processed in complete disregard for international standards. A proper pine nut kernels is species identified on your package (100% species specific) and has a moisture content of not more than 6%. It is shelf stable and does not require refrigeration. The reason for these standards is food safety. Once the shell has been removed on a pine kernel, one most remove to moisture to make it safe from mold and other pathogens. It is unsafe to eat pine kernels that are raw, absent shelling them yourself. It is also against international standards to sell pine kernels in this state for human consumption. Be it greed or ignorance, it is shame to see the American Pine Nut kernels being treated cavalry by those who should have as long term interest in protecting the Made and Grown in the USA brand, for pine nuts.
Pine nuts will spike again and even higher than jaw dropping prices of 2010, if the price of pine nut kernels is any indication of what we can look for on the global stage.
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