Pine Nuts

By Malinda Geisler, content specialist, AgMRC, Iowa State University.

Updated August 2015 by Christina Romero, AgMRC, California Polytechnic University, Pomona


In season 2014/2015, world production of pine nuts achieved 39,950 MT (kernel basis), that is, 86 percent up from 2004. This growth is mainly explained by the increase in China’s production, ten times higher than the previous year. Therefore, China was the main producer country in 2014, with a crop of 25,000 MT, which represents the 62% of total production. China was followed by Korea DPR (5,000 MT, 12% share), Afghanistan (3,100 MT, 8% share), Pakistan (3,000 MT, 7% share) and Russian Federation (2,500 MT, 6% share). (INC)

Pine Nuts’ exports accounted 14,000 MT in 2013, that is, 1.5 times the quantity of metric tons exported in 2008. These results seem to confirm the trend of export recovery initiated in 2009. (INC)

China was the main exporting country, shipping 10,683 MT, the 76% of total pine nuts’ exports. 29% of these imports went to USA, the main destination of China’s pine nuts. (INC)

Value-Added Products

Pine nuts aka. Pignolias are getting attention from today’s cooks and restaurants as a new flavor to add to a variety of dishes including the popular the pesto. 

The shelled pine nuts appear like puffed grains of rice. They are consumed raw, roasted or used as an ingredient for such things as breads, candies, cookies, cakes, sauces, meat, fish and vegetable dishes.
Pine nuts are also important sources of food for wildlife including songbirds, quails, squirrels, chipmunks, black bears and mule deer.

Pine nut oil is obtained by pressing and is available on the market as an expensive gourmet cooking oil or a medicine.

Apart from cooking and medicine, pine nut oil is used in cosmetics, beauty products and as a high-end massage oil. It also has a variety of specialty uses such as a wood finish, paint base for paintings and treatment of fine skins in leather industry.  (University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry 2004)


Nuts and Dried Fruit Global Statistical Review, 2014/15. International Nut and Dried Fruit (INC)
Pine Nuts, Non-Wood Forest Products form Conifers, FAO, UN, 1998.
Pine Nuts: Species, Products, Markets and Potential for U.S. Production, University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry, 2004 - This report describes the global pine nut industry and the potential for expanding the economic scope of the Southwest's pinyon nut industry.