Pine nuts grow in the forests of their home countries of China, Russia, North Korea and Pakistan, not on farms. Meihekou County, in Jilin Province, is the largest pine nut distribution center in Asia and is home to the largest pine nut processing plant in China. The county produces up to 100,000 metric tons of pine nuts a year, which corresponds to 80% of China's total production. However, in recent years, the county's production has been unable to keep pace with growing market demand, leading buyers to purchase pine nuts from other sources, such as Yunnan, Shanxi, North Korea, Russia and Mongolia.
The upturn in market demand, combined with low imports and rising labor costs, has driven up the prices of pine nuts. As anyone who has had an appetite for pine nuts recently can tell you, prices are rising. Why are pine nuts so expensive? Pine nuts are very expensive for several reasons. For example, these nuts take a long time to grow, require a lot of labor, there is greater demand, and they are not native to the United States.
For this reason, the value of pine nuts is higher than that of other nuts. It remains dormant during the fall and winter, and then becomes a mature cone that bears fruit (pine seeds) the following spring. Meihekou County's annual pine nut processing capacity can reach 150,000 tons when it obtains half of its raw materials from China and the other half from imports. In addition, since this nut is not native to the U.S.
In the U.S., it's not something that manufacturers can produce in large quantities in the same country. According to statistics from the International Council on Nuts and Nuts, China is the world's second largest consumer of pine nuts. Pine nuts have long been desired for their unique flavor, their use in traditional recipes, and their health benefits. The result, according to LeBaron, is that the prices of domestically produced pine nuts have increased by 200 percent in the last five years; the prices of imported nuts have risen between 800 and 1000 percent.
The layer of snow that nourishes pine trees gradually in spring and early summer is disappearing due to warmer weather patterns. With such a high price, it's no wonder that many people consider its value and whether it's worth paying or whether it's better to look for other alternatives. Another thing that makes pine nuts so expensive is that they require a lot of labor and effort to grow, care for and harvest them. As demand for pine nuts increases, the supply of pine nuts cannot keep pace due to the long time it takes for trees to mature.
In addition to being annoying to remove the nuts, pine nuts take a long time to bear fruit. Because of its high price, it's not surprising that people wonder if it's worth the price or if there are better alternatives. Therefore, the number of farmers able to harvest pineapples is shrinking every year as experienced farmers age. So, if you're planning to buy some pine nuts, you may need to consider the hefty price, especially if you're on a limited budget.