Heavy rains dealt a hard blow to the 2015 pecan harvest. Responsible suppliers keep quality standards high.
Delicious pecan nuts are the crowning glory of the Schulstad Maple Pecan Plait. Not surprisingly, consumers have high expectations.
In the spring of 2016, a visit to two of the world's leading pecan plantations in Arizona confirmed that the quality consumers expect is also the quality they get.
"Due to the weather phenomenon El Niño, Arizona was affected by very heavy rains around harvest time. So what looked like a bumper harvest ended up as a low average crop," says Kevin Cook, Lantmännen Unibake's global category manager for ingredients.
Combined with sharply rising demand in Europe, this reduced global supplies of pecan nuts to an all-time low.
The purpose of Kevin's visit was both to secure enough pecans through to 2017 and ensure the hundreds of tonnes delivered to Lantmännen Unibake each year are premium quality, safe and responsibly produced in every way.
Focus on sustainability
"One of the plantations in particular is doing a lot of sustainability work. Solar panels are being installed to meet energy needs; sprinkler systems installed to reduce water consumption; and natural fertiliser is being produced from nuts shells and husk," Kevin reports.
New machinery installed within the pecan factories has also reduced the need for manual labour, improving staff working conditions and stepping up quality and food safety control.
Kevin is very satisfied with what he has seen.