Some nuts and snacks taste good while others taste great and have health benefits.
Pistachios are one of those premium tasting treats that also come with a premium price.
You may be wondering why pistachios are so expensive.
There are a few reasons behind pistachios being so expensive, and here, we will look at the top ten.
Why Are Pistachios So Expensive?
1. Long Growing Period
You will quickly learn that many of the reasons pistachios are so expensive are going to be related to how pistachios grow.
Pistachios are not actually nuts.
They are the seeds of the pistachio tree.
The pistachio tree is a difficult plant to grow, and one reason for this is that it has a very long growing period.
From the time a pistachio tree is planted, it will take 15–20 years before you will see the first fruits.
This is undoubtedly a long time, and it will take many years of nurturing and care before the tree starts to produce.
You will notice that this is difficult for farmers to get involved in because it takes a large investment with no guarantee of return.
When a company or an individual decides to get involved with a pistachio business, they will have to purchase something preestablished.
Starting a pistachio business from scratch will be nearly impossible because of the long wait for the pistachio trees to begin producing.
Think about all of the time and labor that will go into that tree for the next twenty years before even a single pistachio seed is produced.
As you can see, this is partly what leads to the smaller number of pistachio farms and the reason new ones are not being created all that often.
2. Low Production
Even when you wait the 15 years to get the tree producing and working for you, there won’t be many pistachios on each tree.
Each individual tree can produce a maximum of 50 pounds of nuts each year.
This is not going to help all that much when it comes to overall production and volume needed.
To get a better idea of how many nuts other trees can produce, you can compare the brazil nut tree.
The brazil nut tree can produce well over 200 pounds each year.
This means that, when you are setting up a brazil nut tree farm, you are not going to need that much land.
With pistachio farms, you are going to need more land, more labor, and more water as well.
All of these aspects are going to add to the cost of the pistachios in the long term.
The more you can produce per square foot, the easier it is to make money for a farmer.
Crops that have lower production but still need a lot of land are going to have to be more expensive.
This is a simple mathematical formula farmers will have to figure out so that they can stay profitable.
Lower production rates certainly increase the overall costs of the pistachios we buy.
3. Every Other Year
You have seen that the pistachio trees take forever to grow, and they require quite a bit of land for a small output.
There is yet another hit that pistachio farmers have to take.
The tree is only going to produce seeds every other year.
This means that you will need to have two large crops to alternate the growing seasons.
Without these alternating crops, there will be no way to meet the required production each year.
Although having alternating crops will help farmers make more consistent money, it does not add to their overall revenue.
Those plants which don’t produce will still need attention and water during the off years.
This means that there will be costs without any profits.
Of course, these costs have to be covered somewhere for the farmer to stay in business, which is why the pricing on the pistachios keeps going up.
The products that are sold are going to have to make up for the producers that are having their off season.
Committing to a business where plants only produce every other year is quite difficult.
4. Hand Sorting
Pistachios are a labor-intensive crop.
Each pistachio that is picked will have to be hand sorted.
Pistachios are hand sorted so that only the highest quality products are sold.
The quality pistachios can be sold for more money.
The ones that are not as good looking are sometimes combined and sold for a nut mix or crushed to be sold as a topping for ice cream or desserts.
Farmers will try and use all of the pistachios they produce, but they may have different uses for each one.
As you can imagine, the hand sorting process is labor intensive.
Workers will have to spend time learning about the pistachios they are sorting and deciding on which ones are going to work best for the profitability of the farmer.
This process needs to happen quickly.
If a worker is taking a long time to analyze each seed, they are going to be cutting into the profits of the farmer.
Workers have to go through large piles of pistachios each day, and it is going to be a labor-intensive and time-consuming process.
However, it is necessary to get the best pistachios to the store.
This will certainly increase the cost of the pistachios.
5. Cool Winter/Hot Summer Climate
The pistachio trees are very picky when it comes to climate.
They are going to need specific growing conditions in order to be able to thrive.
Ideally, a pistachio tree needs a hot summer climate and a cool winter.
This makes California a great place to grow pistachios in the United States.
Outside of California, the majority of the pistachios are coming from other countries.
This, of course, will increase costs because the supply in the United States is so low.
When the demand is high, and pistachios need to come from other countries, the pricing will start to go up.
It is difficult to manufacture the perfect conditions for pistachios to grow.
Farmers are always going to have to deal with the conditions that mother nature deals them each year.
If it happens to be a warmer winter and a cold summer, the crop is going to be significantly reduced.
This is unfortunate, but there is nothing that can be done about it.
Farmers have to learn to take the good with the bad.
However, in preparation for a bad year, they must have enough money saved in reserve to get them through.
This, of course, will make the pistachios a bit more expensive than we all would like.
6. Drought Conditions
As we mentioned, pistachios are mainly going to grow in California.
California is the only state which seems to have the proper growing conditions for the pistachios.
The problem you will find with California is that the drought conditions can become a problem.
Pistachios require a lot of rain and water.
When California goes through a season of less rain, the pistachio crop will very much be affected.
When this happens, the farmer is going to have to add more water to take care of his crops.
More water is going to lead to a higher expense for the farmer.
When there is a drought situation, not only does the availability of the water decrease, but the price for water goes up.
Sometimes farmers will have trouble even getting enough water to keep the crops thriving.
This situation happens more often than most would like.
When the water levels are down, the pricing for pistachios is absolutely going to increase.
7. Expensive for Farmers
Not all crops are created equal when it comes to expenses.
Some farmers choose to produce large quantities of cheaper crops, and others like to do small quantities of the more expensive crops.
Regardless of the type of farming a farmer enjoys doing, there are going to be expenses involved.
When a farmer can lower the expenses as much as possible, they will have a much better shot at making a profit.
The difficult thing with pistachios is that there are not many ways for the farmer to reduce expenses.
The prices of the water, land, and labor are going to remain high.
Trees are only going to produce a certain number of seeds each year.
This creates the problem of there being a lag in the profits a farmer can collect.
If everything is done really well in a given year, the crop is not necessarily going to be double the output of the previous season.
You don’t always know just what you are going to get, and this is why farming is such a gamble.
When you see a bag of pistachios priced high in the market, you have to consider all that a farmer went through to get it on your table.
As we have mentioned, the labor expenses for pistachios are quite high.
The more people have to touch or handle a product, the more it is going to cost the farmer.
Pistachios need to be picked, and they also need to be sorted.
This adds up to a lot of hours’ worth of labor.
You will notice that labor costs will also sometimes include the hand watering and pruning that must take place to keep the crop in great shape.
Labor costs add up very quickly.
When each person has a minimum payment, and you multiply that by the number of employees, the prices get very high.
The labor costs are also going to have to include things like payroll taxes and worker’s compensation as well.
A farmer must be protected should someone get hurt while working on their farm.
Most business owners would agree that increasing labor costs are a significant reason they have to raise pricing across the board for their products.
This is not limited just to pistachios but to many products.
The more time and labor it takes, the harder it is going to be for people to afford the end product.
Pistachios are quite popular.
The taste is very unique.
Although it is a seed, many people put the pistachio in the nut category.
Pistachios seem to be very popular around the holidays.
Since they are a bit expensive to purchase, they make for a really good gift to give people around the holidays.
Pistachios have grown in popularity as people have gotten more creative about the ways to use pistachio.
Pistachios are used in sauces and as toppings for meat and in sweets as well.
The more things people find to do with pistachios, the more it is going to cost to obtain them.
The demand will go up, but the supply will stay right where it is.
Pistachios are even being used to make drinks and liqueurs.
Many farmers are taking advantage of this side of the business and making sure they sell the smaller or less useable pistachios to these companies that use pistachio as an ingredient.
They then save the better pistachios to put a premium markup on.
This allows a few different levels of revenue from the products and allows them to maximize earning potential.
However, it does not help when it comes to consumer pricing.
The supply and demand problem continues to arise and cost us more money overall.
Last but certainly not least on the list of reasons pistachios can be so expensive is that they are healthy.
A healthy food is almost always going to cost more than an unhealthy food.
If you calculate that a healthy food also tastes good, then the pricing will probably be even higher.
The healthier foods allow people to check on their health and enjoy a great snack at the same time.
You may be wondering what the benefits of pistachio could be.
The pistachios have protein, potassium, Vitamin B6, and copper.
You will be pleasantly surprised by the health benefits of these tasty seeds.
The pistachio will have some fat and some carbs in it, but the fiber in a serving of pistachios is about the same as a cup of broccoli.
Overall, you will not find that regular pistachios are bad for you.
However, you will have to pay attention to those which are salted or covered with another flavoring.
You may find pistachios with Buffalo spice or other unique treats.
Although these can taste great, they are usually much higher in sodium.
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of why pistachios are so expensive.
The law of supply and demand, meaning low supply and high demand, is one of the major reasons.
By the time you start incorporating how much it costs just to grow these crops and how long farmers must wait to make money, the pricing just keeps going up.
You may find sales on pistachios after the holidays.
When you purchase in bulk, you can also usually save a few dollars.
Try and purchase when you see pistachios on sale as it will help you to keep your costs down.
If kept at the proper temperature, pistachios should last for a long time as well.