For large investors, pistachio cultivation on Spanish soil appears to be a new and alternative way of increasing capital productivity. Until now, the pistachio market has been dominated by countries such as Iran, Turkey and America.
However, investors are increasingly interested in growing this nut in Spain. For example, the Portuguese agricultural investor Treemond recently bought 1,000 hectares of agricultural land from Grupo Osborne in Malpico de Tajo (Toledo). With this purchase, Treemond intends to grow into the market leader in the nut sector in Spain and Portugal in the coming years.
This is not an unwise investment because the pistachio tree can withstand the heat of the Spanish summer and the frost in the winter. In addition, the demand for pistachios in Spain and abroad has increased in recent years. Every year, 762 million kilos of pistachios are consumed worldwide.
Great profit margins
Currently, 30,000 hectares of agricultural land in Spain is used for pistachio cultivation; 20,000 hectares of which are in the Castile-La Mancha region. According to the calculation of the Spanish export organisation Ecex, Spain exported pistachios worth €632,000 euros in 2019. The import of these nuts is, however, considerably higher with a value of €1.314million.
Investors are now responding to this gap with the purchase of agricultural land used for cereal cultivation. Sources around the investors report that it takes four to five years to be harvested. From then on, however, the profit margins are much higher than with the cultivation of traditional crops. In addition, the trees can provide income for decades.
Treemond was not the first major investor to take an interest in pistachio cultivation in Spain. The Spanish company Natural Woody Crops also saw opportunities and invested €5.5million in a pistachio plantation of 530 hectares in Los Monegros (Zaragoza). The well-known Spanish producer of Mediterranean food, Borges, invested in 724 hectares of agricultural land for the cultivation of almonds, walnuts and pistachios. 64% of the nut cultivation in the Extremadura region is in the hands of Borges.
Increased consumption in recent years demonstrates the growing popularity of the pistachio nut. Despite the fact imports into Spain are significantly greater than exports, these exports have doubled annually since 2015; and have increased by more than 1,000% since then.
According to industry sources, each hectare of pistachio cultivation can yield between €6,000 to €8,000 per harvest. Now more than 75% of the cultivation is concentrated in Castile-La Mancha. Other regions make up the rest: 16% in Andalucia, 5% in Murcia, 4.2% in Castile and León and 3.7% in Catalonia.
Worldwide, 48% of pistachios now come from the United States, 29.5% from Iran, 12.2% Turkey, 8% percent from Syria and only 2.5% from the European Union. If it were up to large agricultural investors, this will change. Spain has the potential to join the main exporting countries of the pistachio nut on a global level.