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California’s Pistachio Clash-io

The plot is thickening in an ongoing battle between rival nut companies, with Touchstone Pistachios gaining a recent foothold against Wonderful Pistachios.

In a nutshell: Touchstone Pistachios has been planning an efficiency expansion of a processing facility in Tulare County, California, and a new 49-silo plant in Fresno County. Both plans have been on hold due to environmental challenges from nut rival Wonderful Pistachios.

The expansions would support increasing nut production in the Valley. Growers are planting 30,000 acres of new pistachio trees each year, meaning nut production will continue to rise for years.

Feeling saltyA county judge ruled against Wonderful Pistachios on the Tulare County expansion. The judge called out Wonderful’s intent as, well, not so wonderful: that of an economic competitor rather than a party concerned with public duty. In other words, using environmental laws to stifle competition.

Soundbite: “Wonderful’s interests are not akin to individual residence owners challenging development of a condominium complex in the immediate vicinity of their neighborhood,” said Judge Bret Hillman.

Where this goes: Four years in and counting, the embattled competitors will probably continue to duke it out. This nutty David and Goliath-style story is bound to have a few more chapters as the Fresno County expansion is still on hold.