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Indian walnut imports expected to rise 6% as almonds fall
Indian almond imports in 2017/18 will show a year on year decrease of five-percent to 95,000 MT. This decrease is expected because the Indian festive season begins earlier than the crop harvest in the United States, which will make US imports less attractive.
To fill the gap, domestic walnut production is expected to rise by six-percent in MY 2017/18 to 34,000 MT (in-shell basis). Nevertheless, despite this increase in production, demand growth will continue to outpace production and eventually imports will again rise.
Domestic almond production in 2017/18 (August/July) is forecast at 1,000 MT (kernel-weight basis), a nine-percent decrease over last year. Indian almond production is limited to the hill states of Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh; the annual yield per tree is usually low and ranges between 1,000-1,500 nuts.
Demand growth for almonds is mostly driven by India’s expanding middle class and increased consumer awareness of products perceived as healthful. Indian almond consumption in MY 2017/18 is forecast at 97,000 MT, a 10 percent increase over the previous year.
This increase is driven by low market prices, a weaker dollar, changing consumer preference, and increased demand during the nonfestive season. Also, the early festive season is expected to lead to higher almond stocks in MY 2017/18, which are forecast at 39,400 MT.
Traditionally, demand for nuts mostly occurs during the festive season, which runs from September to January. Now, however, growing perception among Indian consumers about nutritional and health benefits associated with almonds is driving domestic demand beyond just the festive and winter season. Indian consumers regard almonds as a high-energy food, one which is well-suited for children, physically active people, and recovering patients.
Price-sensitive consumers find current market prices attractive, particularly for Californian non-pareil almonds, which have the size, uniform ‘eye’ shape, and sweetness desired. Australian non-pareil and Carmel varieties also account for a growing segment of the Indian market. Iranian varieties like Mamra and Qumi are popular in the western and northwestern regions of India (e.g. Rajasthan and Gujarat), and often get a price premium.
Ample production and a strong rupee relative to the US dollar have driven average almond prices in India down by about 30 percent in MY 2016/17. These conditions are expected to remain constant through the festive season.
Domestic walnut production is expected to increase by three percent to reach 34,000 MT (in-shell basis) in MY 2017/18. Weather conditions were reported as favourable during the flowering period of March– April in the Kashmir valley, but rains in July/August may affect the quality of the crop.
Typically, India’s walnut harvest runs from late August through September, with market arrivals peaking during late October. Indian walnut production is cyclical in nature and yields can vary by as much as 20 percent, depending on weather conditions at the time of blossom and harvest. Production estimates for 2016/17 are currently 32,000 MT.
Given consistent supplies, domestic demand driven by more consumer awareness of the healthful benefits of tree nuts will push walnut consumption in MY 2017/18 up by 15 percent to 49,000 MT. Of Indian-produced walnuts, 60 to 65 percent are consumed domestically, of which more than half are consumed during the festive and winter season.
With prices holding steady, the forecast growth in consumption stems from the rising perception among middle class consumers that walnuts are healthy: they are believed to reduce cholesterol, and may have particular health benefits for diabetic patients, and more.
The wider usage of attractive consumer packaging (vacuum packs) is improving the shelf life and quality of walnuts, which encourages yearround consumption of nuts as snacks. Some companies which have major processing facilities for shelling and packing walnuts in the state of Jammu and Kashmir are now expanding into facilities in the cities of Mumbai and New Delhi.
Domestic walnut prices have surged by an average of 20 percent on new demand driven by more informed, health-conscious consumers. In turn, favourable domestic demand and prices reduced exports. Related to that, prices of imported walnuts ranged between INR 75,000 – 80,000 per kilogram.
1 INR = 0.015 USD
Read the full report at gain.fas.usda.gov
Publication date: 9/27/2017
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