This year, Paramount launched version 4.0 of Get Crackin’ advertizing campaign which will include $25 million spent on television ads alone. The original Get Crackin’ campaign was launched three years ago.

“Paramount Farms has spent $100 million over the last three years to reach consumers through the Get Crackin’ campaign,” Anzaldo said.

Household penetration is how Paramount measures consumer consumption. Prior to the campaign, 16 percent to 17 percent of U.S. households consumed pistachios annually. Over the last three years, household penetration has approached the 25 percent mark.

Household penetration for almonds and peanuts is the 40 percent range.

“Domestically, consumers are buying more pistachios,” Anzaldo explained. “This trend needs to continue with more non-bearing acreage entering production.”

Two thirds of Paramount pistachios are sold internationally while the balance is sold domestically.

China is the top importer of U.S. pistachios. Sales have spiraled from 5 million pounds five years ago to more than 100 million pounds this year. Previously, China purchased most of its pistachios from Iran, but Anzaldo says U.S. marketing efforts convinced the Chinese that California pistachios are of higher quality than Iranian pistachios.

The European Union is the second largest U.S. pistachio importer.

Paramount’s four California pistachio processing facilities include two plants in the Lost Hills area of Kern County, the Coalinga facility in southwestern Fresno County, and a new $60 million facility in Firebaugh in northwestern Fresno County which opened in early September.

As with all tree nut crops, food safety is front and center. The domestic pistachio industry experienced a large financial loss when a possible case of salmonella was tied to California pistachio processor Setton Farms three years ago.

As a result, pistachio processors have enhanced food safety efforts. Renovations at Paramount’s main plant in Lost Hills include a “ready-to-eat” processing facility where pistachios are pasteurized or roasted to further minimize a salmonella occurrence.

“The facility has the most modern and state-of-the-art equipment along with the tree nut industry’s highest level of food safety standards,” Anzaldo said.

Anzaldo centered his final comments on the long-term efforts needed to maintain a successful industry.

“The pistachio industry will continue to be successful as long as we successfully market larger crops, expand processing capabilities, and maintain nut quality,” Anzaldo concluded. “Interwoven in this focus must be profitability for growers over the short and long term.”

cblake@farmpress.com