The nut industry in Chile could surpass the 100,000 tons of nut production milestone in 2018. According to projections made at the second "Chile 100 thousand, grow with quality" congress, the work being carried out by the country would allow it to double that volume by 2025.
Different exhibitors alluded this volume, starting with the Minister of Agriculture, Claudio Ternicier, who stressed that the government would "continue to promote a public-private relationship, not only in the dried fruits sector, but in food in general, as this is our second economic pillar, after copper."
The President of Chilenut, Alvaro Jimenez, and the President of the Chilean Walnut Commission, Karl Samsing, are confident that the work of a united sector in its entire production chain, will allow them to obtain resources for the development of the sector, so that they can grow 5% a year, and produce 200 thousand tons by 2025.
"We have to get more people to consume nuts, or have those who already consume them, to do it more often. This is done by conducting quality work, facing unfair competition, and with a great spirit of public-private co-operation," he said.
Chile now accounts for 11% of world nut trade and it is expected to reach 18% by 2025. "The safety of the food chain is key to achieve that," added Samsing.
In addition, the president of the Chilean Walnut Commission, gave details of the nut promotion campaign which in 2018 will focus in India and Korea, and will have complementary actions in China, and will be the main sponsor of the INC 2018 to be held in Seville.
The total budget for marketing is $3 million dollars, which is far from the $34 million dollars that California invests in marketing and research spending each year.
In India, the sector will spend US $1.3 million in posters and notices, local social media, point of sale support, in-store promotion, seminars, work with chefs, and invitations from importers to Chile.
In Korea, they will spend US $1.3 million. The main focus of the campaign there is to position Chile as a supplier of high quality nuts in the counter season.
Fernando Cabrera, agricultural manager of Huertos del Valle invited the industry to do a productive analysis: there are hectares that are threatened by technical issues (quality) and by productive issues (density), he said.
He called for work to raise yields, which currently stand at 3,210 kilos per hectare, with a lot of plantation in marginal soils, while in California it is 4,779 kilos per hectare.
The executive of Huertos del Valle also said the sector must be able to separate roles, and have them well defined. "Producers need to be concerned about productivity and quality, and exporters should be concerned about seducing international markets. As a producer I can get a high quality nut, with months of work, but I can damage it in a few hours by having problems in the removal and drying of the nut, for example in a crop that is not dried on a day in April. We have to specialize. There are no black plague studies, to get to know the two new diseases."
So, Cabrera said, will we be able to maintain a high quality with 200 thousand tons produced? "The nuts that arrive in China or India are Chilean nuts, and not from a particular exporter. That is why we must work together."
The general manager of the exporting company La Invernada, David Valenzuela, agreed with Cabrera: "Quality is the most relevant characteristic that international buyers highlight when they compare us with other origins. When they think about Chile, they must think about quality, that is the difference that we must mark as an industry. Unfortunately, the poor performance of some, can damage the prestige of all," he says.
The quality in walnuts with shells, he adds, has to do, externally, with the external appearance, caliber and, internally, with microbiology, color distribution, break percentage, and humidity of the pulp. Quality in crushed nuts is related to color, the percentage of its forms (halves, quarters, pieces), defects (insect damage, fungi), foreign matter (shells, septum and others), rancidity, microbiology, and humidity.
Jason Karr, the manager of dry-foods at Derco Foods, who referred to "Importer's Vision: What does the market demand?", said that it is the small details that make the experience of every buyer memorable, and in this sense, he said, apart form having a good and constant quality, sending the right product in its proper amount, and doing it in a timely manner, is key.