Charting The Course for Pecans: Unveiling an Industry-Wide Nutrition Strategy

The Unified Pecan Promotion Plan will use Digital Content to Educate Consumers, third-party validators and nutrition research to increase awareness..

As the new CEO of American Pecan Council (APC) and American Pecan Promotion Board (APPB), I am excited about a new roadmap drawn with the help of pecan industry peers. The Unified Pecan Promotion Plan (UPPP) is an industry-wide global marketing plan led by APC and APPB.

Anne Warden, American Pecan Council and American Pecan Promotion Board.

This blueprint is designed to bring our industry partners together. We want to align the entire supply chain, from grower to sheller to customer, under a single vision and mission. Every day, I come to work with a single focus in mind: Provide greater impact and return on APC and APPB funding investments with every program and conversation.
Leadership at APC and APPB recently launched a listening tour to collect feedback from our growers and industry partners on the four strategic initiatives in the Unified Pecan Promotion Plan:

  • Higher Value Through Nutrition
  • Expanded Demand Through New Occasions
  • Industry Readiness Through Services Strategy
  • Incremental Volume Through Exports

As we meet with growers at a variety of meetings this spring, we welcome feedback on our plan for growing this industry. Throughout the next few months, I appreciate the opportunity to share the details of these strategies, beginning with “Higher Value Through Nutrition.”

The Unified Pecan Promotion Plan will unify industry partners around promoting the nutrition story of pecans.

Strategic Initiative 1 of 4: Higher Value Through Nutrition
Pecans are loved for their taste, but not well-known for their unique health benefits. As a result, our industry faces perception issues in which pecans are seen as a dispensable, price-elastic purchase rather than an essential one. By shifting consumer mindset, we hope to increase demand and value for your products.

Problem: Consumer health perceptions on pecans lag
Good news: Pecans are associated with being delicious.
Not-so-great news: Pecans don’t have a great reputation for being a price value and are not associated with being convenient.

Pecans have historically been classified as a holiday nut or baking ingredient for favorite desserts. You’re likely already feeling that your pecans are lagging in consumer demand in part because of a lack of messaging on our health benefits.

There is huge opportunity here for our growers. In a nationally-represented survey conducted by APPB among the general population (18+), nearly 75% of consumer respondents said they would be more likely to eat more pecans if they could reduce the risk of heart disease and support brain and cognitive health.

We know there are already health benefit areas of pecans we can claim and there are also new areas of research we can begin to identify and fund that will all help to drive pecan consumption and enhance value for your operations.

What we’re going to do about it: Position pecans as higher value through nutrition messaging
How do we move the needle in this consumer sentiment space? Our Unified Pecan Promotion Plan currently calls out three action steps: Digital Content to Educate Consumers; Third-Party Validators; and Nutrition Research.

Educating Consumers with Digital Media
Great news: We are already working in this area! We have a detailed plan underway to use online marketing to reach consumers when and where they are making decisions. This marketing plan is driven by consumer perception and buying behavior data to get the most bang for your marketing buck.

In the past, the pecan industry has used a shotgun approach for consumer marketing. We’re analyzing our previous marketing footprint and working to hone it. Going forward, pecan messaging must lead the customer in their buying journey so they put pecans in their online shopping carts.

Activating Third-Party Validators
Fitness and lifestyle influencers are huge assets for pecan’s nutrition messages. While you and I may not follow them online, they are a gateway to consumer demand for pecans. Our Unified Pecan Promotion Plan calls for partnerships with key cultural content creators (i.e., someone popular with an engaged following on TikTok or Instagram) to showcase everyday food solutions with your pecans.

APPB will also partner with top consumer health sites like Everyday Health to create custom, authentic articles and social posts driving pecan health benefit messaging.
Our team is already working to identify key health and wellness experts who will take to social media and make content contributions praising the role of pecans in a well-rounded diet.

And if you (or your kids or grandkids) have a recommendation on a famous influencer who talks about fitness or healthy lifestyles, send their profile link our way!

Nutrition Research and Industry-wide Messaging Clarity
From extension research to processor insights to grower trials, our industry has a long history of generating production and processing intelligence. We want to aggregate and analyze current and future nutrition research to help leverage nutrition messaging. To be efficient and consistent, we want to consolidate claims and messages. If we are singing from the same “pecans are nutritious” hymn sheet across the entity supply chain, we all win.

Growers are amazing advocates for what they do and what they grow. Our job is to help provide members, allies and partners clear, simple and consistent messages.

We admit it will likely take several years to identify and fill research gaps, refresh our health and wellness claims, and align all our “pillar stories” for consistent promotion, but we have a clear vision for where we’re going and how we’ll get there.

In short, the APPB and APPC team, under my leadership as CEO, will put forth immediate promotions that will almost exclusively be focused on differentiating pecans as a novel nut with natural nutrition and great taste. Then, we will work to cultivate a wider range of credible, third-party validators and pecan-specific nutrition research to differentiate pecans from other nuts further.

We are excited about the role nutrition positioning can play in driving demand with consumers. It is not our sole pathway to success, and I’m excited to share more about our other three initiatives.

I want to reiterate the values under which I and the entire APC/APPB teamwork operate. We are here to be trusted partners with our members and be known for our transparency and accessibility. I welcome their feedback and thoughts on the plan detailed in this article. Grower texts, calls or one-on-one visits at a variety of upcoming shows and meetings are communications I look forward to.

We are committed to unifying the industry and taking actions that support the whole. Like pecan growers, we are driven by excellence and strive for an increasingly higher return on your industry investment.