Despite retaliatory tariffs and uncertainty in key export markets for California almonds, demand for the nut continues to grow around the world. New advertising campaigns and marketing programs are being launched in different countries to expand markets and drive consumption.
At its conference in Sacramento last week, the Almond Board of California gave updates on what it is doing to build export demand. A main concern for growers and exporters has been the ongoing U.S. trade dispute with China that reduced shipments during the last crop year.
Almond Board President and CEO Richard Waycott said overall export sales "didn't turn out that badly" and still ended up breaking a record. He noted that Chinese tariffs increasing from 10% to 60% did have a "significant impact." Not only did higher retaliatory tariffs raise almond prices in that market, but "buyers weren't willing to commit longer term," he said. Still, export sales performed better than expected in China, which remains an important market with long-term potential, he added.
China remains the third largest export market for California almonds, with shipments of 128 million pounds for crop year 2018-19, down from 170 million pounds in 2017-18, according to the board.