Low pricing has caused a recent surge in California walnut shipments.
“Supplies of walnuts are becoming limited, especially on premium grade walnuts as lower prices are entering the global pipeline,” says Mark Calder of Primavera Marketing Inc. in Linden, Ca. “Sales and deliveries have sped up in recent weeks and this is mainly attributed to walnuts selling at virtually half price compared to one year ago. I have never seen such a rapid reduction and it is extremely unfortunate to our growers who collectively delivered outstanding quality this season.”
While California is a strong and preferred supplier of walnuts globally, it’s not the only producing region. “The Chinese have greater production than California. And additional acreage coming into production from Chile has also intruded on some key export markets that we ship to,” says Calder. “Global supplies are increasing and will surely effect how we market California walnuts in the future.”
Walnut consumption has been increasing, in part because the nut is broadening its scope to more than an ingredient for traditional baking and processing uses. It’s also being incorporated into a number of new snacking options. “Walnuts are the healthiest nut around and with increasing awareness on diet and health, it is a perfect time to present new and creative products to consumers that are both healthy and tasty alternatives to traditional snacking,” says Calder. “Some of the new walnut products hitting store shelves taste incredible and do not include the added sugars and fats we usually find in regular snacks.”
Drastic changes from a year ago
Pricing today is about half of what walnuts sold for in January 2018. “It’s been a fairly rapid drop and it sped up when subjective details began spreading throughout the industry this past summer. The fear of record setting tonnage along with high-priced inventories worried handlers before harvesting began in September. In addition, excessive availability from other origins further complicated our marketing direction early on,” says Calder.
Looking ahead, Calder notes the broadening use and availability of fresh walnuts will accommodate increasing supplies. “We have many new products available to consumers that are fresh, healthy, and delicious. From Amazon to local retailers, the variety of uses for walnuts will only increase in the months and years ahead,” he says.