January/February 2024
A trusted name
By KEITH LORIA, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The family-owned and operated Setton Farms has a passion for growing pistachios and making them available to consumers around the world.

The genesis of the company dates to 1959, when brothers Joshua and Morris Setton hoped they could win over the taste buds of Brooklyn’s residents with delicious sponge cake and jelly doughnuts. Years later, that dream became a passion for sharing gourmet food and specialty items people wanted but couldn’t find in their local grocery store.

Setton Farm, pistachio grower featured in the National Nut Grower January/February 2024 issue
Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella is the country’s second-largest pistachio grower and processor. In 2023, it processed more than 200 million pounds of pistachios. Photos courtesy of Setton Farms.

In 1967, the brothers opened their first gourmet food store on Kings Highway in Brooklyn, and would go on to open nine stores. During that time, the Setton brothers began selling packaged nuts and dried fruits to major retailers in the New York metropolitan area. In 1981, they expanded operations by entering the wholesale business, selling nuts, dried fruits, seeds, trail mixes and other specialty items.

By 1986, the Setton brothers turned their focus westward to pistachios, a relatively young industry in America but one that they believed had great potential. Since then, the Setton family’s mission has been to provide quality pistachios to its customers around the world.

“From the beginning, our family has taken a hands- on approach to growing and processing pistachios in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where the climate and soil are perfect for growing the world’s best- tasting pistachios,” said Joshua Setton, CEO and president of Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella and Setton Farms. “As a vertically integrated company, we focus on every step of the process, from growing and harvesting to processing, manufacturing, packaging, and, ultimately, marketing our premium California pistachios worldwide.”

Today, Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella is the country’s second-largest pistachio grower and processor. The 2023 crop was a record breaker and it processed more than 200 million pounds of pistachios.

“We will ship the entirety of this product throughout the pistachio fiscal year, which runs from Sept. 1, through the end of August,” Setton said. “Pistachio lovers live all over the world, and we are dedicated to offering them the best-tasting pistachios grown in California’s Central Valley.”

The company works with small and large retailers and has created pistachio products ranging from in shell to kernels, packaged to bulk, conventional to organic and branded to private label. Its offerings include seasoned kernels, chocolate-covered pistachios and pistachio blend mixes.

“Our commitment to delivering top-quality products that will grow long-term demand for pistachios is
the key to maintaining strong relationships with our customers,” Setton said.

Proponents of regenerative ag

Setton Farms’ grower services professionals assist in crop production and management practices that help maximize quality and crop size.

“Our growers benefit significantly from our vast resources, expertise and over 100 years of collective farming experience,” Setton said. The company advocates regenerative agriculture, a holistic approach to farming that prioritizes soil health and biodiversity to promote sustainable and resilient ecosystems. Regenerative involves implementing practices that minimize negative impacts on the environment and actively improve it, he said.

Setton Farm, pistachio grower featured in the National Nut Grower January/February 2024 issue
Setton Farm utilizes water-saving and recycling technologies, implements efficient irrigation methods and closely monitors its water usage.

This philosophy of thoughtful and sustainable expansion drives all of the company’s efforts.

“We are here to feed the world with nutrient- dense pistachios and make it a better place for all,” Setton said. “We utilize innovative methods to maximize opportunities during the growing, harvest, and processing time to employ sustainable and forward-thinking business practices. These efforts create a sustainability loop, ensuring that 100% of all discarded products from the process are converted back into valuable inputs, even enriching the soil.”

In addition, healthy soils are the foundation for healthy orchards and the company’s commitment to regenerative agriculture has been vital to improving pistachio quality for all pistachio growers, he said.

“By embracing regenerative agriculture, we are protecting the environment and helping pistachio orchards to thrive for generations,” Setton said. “We will continue this massive undertaking with pride, always mindful of our environmental footprint, as we work towards a cleaner and greener future for all.”

TECH TALK

The company has more than 300,000 square feet of packaging and production space with complete manufacturing and processing capabilities.

“We utilize pistachio sizing machinery, pin-pickers to separate naturally opened pistachios from closed ones, dry roasters, sorting machinery, fully automated packaging lines, flavoring production lines, salt brining systems, dozens of metal detection systems and we have vacuum-packaging capability as well as R&D development services,” Setton said. “With state-of-the-art streamlined, automated, safe pistachio production in our plant, we can offer a wide range of pack sizes to meet the needs of our diverse customer base including customized co-pack arrangements, flexible intermediate bulk containers, cartons, kraft bags, film packaging and other formats.”

Setton Farm, pistachio grower featured in the National Nut Grower January/February 2024 issueThis allows Setton to deliver its pistachios to customers globally through national and international distribution networks.

Technological advancements in the agriculture industry have also allowed the company to reduce resources and improve its pistachio orchards’ overall performance and efficiency. For example, remote sensing and satellite imagery enable Setton to monitor overall crop health, identify stress areas and detect pests and diseases.

“Additionally, precision agriculture technology allows us to use real-time data to optimize our resource inputs and retain precious carbon,” Setton said. “Water, fertilizers and pesticides are then applied on an as-needed basis based on the specific needs of individual areas within our pistachio orchards. These technological tools, among others, allow us to react quickly and implement changes where necessary to improve and maintain tree health with the intent to optimize yields and protect the environment.”

2024 CHALLENGES

Water is and will continue to be a limited resource in California, and that is the biggest issue facing the company as it heads to 2024. Setton utilizes water- saving and recycling technologies, implements efficient irrigation methods and closely monitors water usage.

“We know firsthand how important it is to preserve our most precious natural resource — water,” Setton said. “We recycle and reuse 130 million gallons of water annually, which not only puts water back onto the orchards, but also puts essential minerals back onto the trees. We also capture essential rainwater, which is then put back onto pistachio trees using drip irrigation, efficiently producing an abundant crop.”

With the staff’s experience and knowledge, Setton is poised for another favorable year, with annual expansion executed in a balanced way to ensure Setton’s entire operation works in harmony.

“Our expert teams ensure that customers receive the best-quality pistachios,” Setton said. “Likewise, our commitment to quality extends to how we do business because strong relationships strengthen the entire pistachio industry.” As demand continues to grow, we remain committed to producing the highest quality line of pistachio products available worldwide.”

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is an award-winning journalist who has been writing for almost 20 years. View his recent writing at keithloria.contently.com.


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