PEOPLE like the satisfying crunchy, creamy texture and rich flavour of pistachios. Since these nuts are rich in fibre and protein, they are a great healthy alternative to snacks high in added sugars and saturated fat. To harvest whole and high-quality pistachios, several factors are considered such as soil environment and climatic conditions. The U.S. company Wonderful Pistachios is known for growing and processing these nuts in California with its products processed and sold to Greater China. General Manager of Wonderful Greater China, Ms. Lin Jianhong, spoke to us about the business.
Lin Jianhong, Managing Director, The Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds Greater China
Please briefly introduce the company’s business, including your global and China markets.
Wonderful Pistachios is a leading premium brand worldwide, recognised by their iconic black package and appealing to a sophisticated, health-conscious consumer. As a large vertically integrated pistachio and almond grower and processor, Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds owns, cultivates and harvests more than 65,000 acres of pistachio and almond orchards, located in California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley. Wonderful Pistachios are 100% imported from California, and come direct from Wonderful Pistachio orchards to consumer in over 40 countries.
Wonderful Pistachios are available in classic roasted salted, pepper & garlic and no salt varieties in China and are available from premium retail stores and leading online retailers including T-Mall, JD.com and Yihaodian.
In your opinion, what is the secret with regards to the success of Wonderful® Pistachio?
First of all, our product advantage lies in the scientific way we harvest and sort pistachios in our own orchards. The moderate Mediterranean climate, coupled with the state’s fertile soil and diverse land resources of the San Joaquin Valley in California, provides California Pistachios the great taste of natural goodness. From the start of sowing, it takes eight years for the pistachio trees to produce the first fruits, followed by alternating cycles of high yield and low yield. To ensure yield, pistachio trees require 1,000 accumulative hours of temperature at 45o F or less. In the spring, pistachio seedlings begin to appear and grow into vine-like trees. The ripe kernels will gradually become full, causing the outer shell to burst naturally. The harvest season then takes place in the summer.
Wonderful Pistachios are the only nuts that are mechanically harvested, shelled and dried within 24 hours. During harvest, our California pistachios never touch the ground. At the time of picking, our worker uses a mechanical shaker to pry the pistachios into the tray. Our California pistachios are gathered in catch frames that are quickly emptied into large bins and trailers and sent immediately by truck to our processing facility within 24 hours. The processing speed after harvest is also critical and strictly controlled to guarantee the quality of the final product.
Once arriving at the factory, pistachios go through the first stage of rinsing with water and are then flipped to remove the outer casing. When the pistachios are running through the water, the ripe fruits will sink, and these sinking fruits will be sent to the factory and processed according to international food safety standards, to ensure that every Wonderful Pistachios nut is carefully cared for, and never touch the ground. Immature or under-grown fruits will remain on the surface of the water and are removed during the first mass split. After harvesting, the pistachios will be sent to the storage warehouse network of Wonderful Orchard and when the customer’s order is received, the pistachios are then taken for processing. Every day, tens of thousands of fruits are separated from the shell by a specially designed needle sorter. The colour-sensitive laser sorter is refined to scan the appearance of the fruits. At the end of the line, an experienced manual sorting process will make the final quality check before pistachios move to the baking area. Pistachios that go through careful baking will finally be packaged in a professional, fully enclosed environment and then the products will be stored in a temperature-controlled environment waiting to be picked up or shipped to distribution centres throughout the United States and around the world.
Secondly, we comply with the highest food safety standards as well. Wonderful Orchard attaches great importance to quality assurance and food safety, and has invested heavily in technology, personnel and resources, etc. We implement complete one-stop management involving all aspects of pistachio production, including planting, harvesting, processing and transportation. Food safety is ensured in every aspect of the process.
During the planting process, we use breakthrough research results to manage orchards and have significantly improved on the use of pesticides. All pistachio trees are implemented in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and the orchard is certified by the globally recognised third-party accreditation company, the Scientific Certification System (SCS). In the first online food safety certification of pistachios, Wonderful Pistachio orchards was rated as “Excellent”.
As mentioned earlier, Wonderful Pistachios products are mechanically harvested, shelled and dried within 24 hours without touching the ground. Wonderful Orchard always uses a comprehensive quality assurance programme that is consistently above the requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s regulations and international regulations. We also work with various organisations to ensure compliance with all food safety standards, with our HACCP programme certified by TUV-Nord, an independent certification company that strictly enforces European standards. All external laboratories used in the Wonderful Orchard are ISO 17025 certified, as the industry’s only manufacturer of computerised statistical process control procedures to ensure quality is higher than the expectation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and consumers. Our pistachios are always shelled and dried within 24 hours of harvest to bring the best pistachio ingredients, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture personnel check on time. We also use special equipment that prevent cross-infection of allergens in pistachios and colour sorting technology to remove damaged products during processing, as well as welcome third-party food safety inspections including British Retail Consortium (BRC) and GMA-SAFE certification to ensure further guarantee.
Besides these, Wonderful Orchard has teams of professional researchers and food safety personnel, including one with a doctorate in microbiology and plant pathology, and a master’s degree in molecular biology. We extensively implement Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and integrate factory hygiene procedures by having dedicated personnel handling health plans, procedures documented and detailed inspections, regular audits and records of factory management and health personnel. We continuously train employees and offer incentive programmes to reward employees who comply with health best practices.
In China, the Wonderful Pistachios brand is available in three flavours namely classic salt, black pepper and salt-free.
As consumer demand moves toward differentiation, what innovations will Wonderful have in terms of products?
In the future, our products will cater to the needs of consumers in more independent small packages. Actually, Wonderful Pistachios has already launched the product in small packages for user convenience. In addition, the company is also expecting to bring diversified taste experience to consumers. We will continue to focus on developing a variety of new flavors for our consumers to enjoy healthy and natural pistachios even more.
China’s snack food market has strong potential, and competition is intense in pistachio products. Please share the brand advantage of Wonderful Pistachios.
The Mediterranean climate and soil conditions in the San Joaquin Valley in California provide a superior environment for growing pistachios. In fact, California’s annual production of pistachios exceeds 400 million pounds, making it the world’s leading plantation. Wonderful Pistachios is different from other nuts. California first experimented with pistachios in the 1970s, and then carefully studied cultivation for almost 10 years, and finally cultivated and perfected California Pistachios, also known as Kerman variety. Today’s Wonderful Pistachios is known worldwide for its superior taste and appearance.
The Wonderful Pistachios ripen with natural sunlight, processed within 24 hours of harvest, and under the highest food safety standards. These nuts are carefully cared for and prevented from touching the ground. The Wonderful Pistachios’ large, creamy smooth shell, green kernel, elongated shape and flat stem end allow consumers to recognize them at a glance. The natural open shells make them also very convenient to break the shell with your fingers.
A handful of Wonderful Pistachios is a smart snack choice as part of a balanced diet. Offering both crunch and delicious flavor, they make a satisfying, convenient, tasty and fun snack choice to include in your diet each day. They offer a winning combination of unsaturated fats, high fiber and protein which make a great alternative to snacks high in added sugars and saturated fat. In addition, they are a colorful nut - those greens and red-purples are from antioxidants.
Besides, Wonderful Pistachios come in a variety of sizes so there’s one to suit every occasion - a convenient snack bag to throw into your handbag and provide a tasty, on the go snack, when you need it or large ‘grab’ bags to ensure there’s enough to go around when you share with family and friends. Wonderful Pistachios pair well with your favorite finger foods like fresh fruit, chopped veggies and popcorn. Try Wonderful Pistachios instead of croutons on a salad; use chopped Wonderful Pistachios instead of breadcrumbs on baked chicken or fish.
Boardroom Connection: Ms. Lin Jianhong
Position: General Manager
Company: Wonderful Company, Shanghai, China
T: +86 21 6032 1537
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