Expect to pay more for pecan pie this Thanksgiving thanks to drought in parts of the South and big demand from China.
The average retail price for a pound of pecans rose from $7 in 2008 to $9 last year, and it's expected to be about $11 this year, said Jeff Worn, vice president of South Georgia Pecan Co., which processes 40 million to 50 million pounds of pecans a year in Valdosta, Ga.
The price increase has him and others in the industry worried that people will stop buying the nuts.
"In an already suffering economy, how long will people be able to pay that much for pecans?" asked Worn, whose customers include the Winn-Dixie and Publix grocery chains, big-box stores Sam's Club and Costco, and food manufacturers such as Russell Stover and Sara Lee.
Pecans are the only major tree nut native to the U.S., which produces about 80 percent of the world's crop.
The harvest season begins in the fall in Georgia and Florida and ends in February in New Mexico. Georgia is usually the biggest pecan producer. Other top states include Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.