TEHRAN - Global pistachio market is dominated by Iran and the United States who are in stiff competition to gain a bigger share of the market, said the head of Iran Pistachio Association on Monday. Mahmoud Abtahi told Iran Daily that although the US had managed to grab a larger share of the global pistachio market in recent years, Iran’s high quality product had been able to attract more buyers. He said the annual pistachio exports of Iran and the US stood at 160,000 tons and 200,000 tons respectively in recent years. He said Italy, Greece, Afghanistan, Syria and Turkey were also among the main players in the world pistachio market, but none of them could compete with Iran.  “Turkey is seeking to raise its pistachio harvest to gain a bigger share of the global market,” he noted. He said Iran’s pistachio sold for between US $10 and US $12 per kilogram in the global market. Abtahi noted that Iran exports about 80 percent of its pistachio harvest, adding that the price of the product in the local market was determined by its global price as well as its supply and demand.

The official referred to the 100-year history of Iran’s pistachio exports and said, “We export pistachio to  almost all countries both directly and indirectly.”

Abtahi reiterated that dried fruits were among the country’s most important non-oil export items, of which  the share of pistachios was 70 percent.

He said that Iran mostly exports pistachio in bulk as each country processes and packs pistachio based on its preferences.

 “On the other hand, tariffs on packaged pistachios are high in many countries, therefore exporters prefer to export pistachio in bulk,” he said.

Abtahi noted that pistachio production in Iran declined in the year to March 21, 2019, adding pistachio yields bumper crop every other year.

The official blamed spring frost as the other factor responsible for a decline in Iran’s pistachio output.

He said about 230,000 tons of pistachios were produced in Iran in the year to March 2018 and this figure is expected to reach 50,000 tons in the current year.

The official cited Kerman, Khorasan Razavi and Yazd as the provinces with the highest number of pistachio orchards in the country.