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Chinese consumers go crazy for Californian pistachios
Sunday, 11 August, 2013, 12:00am
John Carney firstname.lastname@example.org
China is going nuts for California. At least that's according to some of the weird and
wonderful food facts that will be on display at this week's Hong Kong Food Expo 2013.
Apparently, California's biggest food export to China is the pistachio nut - with 35 per cent of
its harvest exported to the mainland.
And China has become the pistachio industry's fastest-growing export market, boosting its
purchase of American pistachios from US$5 million (HK$38.7 million) in 2004 to US$109
million a year.
The pistachio is known as the "happy nut" in China because its cracked shell looks like a
smile, and because it tastes so good.
The demand for pistachios from California peaks during Lunar New Year. They are also a
traditional feature at other Chinese festivals when extended families get together and
pistachios are exchanged as gifts and served as a holiday snack.
Interest in US-grown pistachios accelerated two years ago when China's traditional supplier
Iran suffered a drought and a cold spell which damaged the crop. US suppliers filled the gap,
and Chinese consumers were hooked.
As the Chinese market also learns about food safety and quality, they are appreciating the
California pistachio versus the bleached shell from other markets. California pistachio shells
are not bleached and a clean shell means quality.
Overall Californian agricultural exports to Hong Kong, which exceeded US$1 billion in value
in 2012, have enjoyed double-digit rates of growth since 2008, and increased 32 per cent in
the last year alone.
"Food and agricultural products are California's third largest export to Hong Kong, totalling
more than US$1.5 billion in value," said Jeff Williamson, director of the California State
Trade and Export Promotion programme.
The Food Expo opens at the Convention Centre on Thursday and ends the following
Source URL (retrieved on Aug 23rd 2013, 3:20am): http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-