The walnut sector integrated into FEPEX has verified that, since December of 2020, the imported walnuts have been marketed as if they were of national origin and at prices below production costs, which is negatively affecting producers, as well as the image of the Spanish product.
The irregularities have been detected in different regions, especially in Tarragona, where distribution chains have been marketing since December significant volumes of walnuts of the Howard variety as if they were of national origin. According to the product's label, they come from a region that doesn't produce this variety.
The president of FEPEX's walnut and pecan sector committee, Francisco Caballero, said this fraud was negatively affecting the consumer's perception of the national product. Imports do not have to meet the traceability criteria required of Spanish production. Additionally, some of these third countries have direct aids for production. Thus, it's very difficult for the Spanish walnut to compete with their prices, which are below production costs. This seriously harms the emerging national production, which, in addition to an environmentally sustainable crop, has important growth and quality prospects.
Spanish walnuts are starting to be recognized for their quality, especially in the demanding community market. This antagonistic situation that is taking place in the national market makes no sense, especially as the country has the Nueces de España brand, whose purpose is to value the quality of the national production.
According to 2019 data from the Survey of Crop Surfaces and Productions of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food, Spain has 11,444 hectares devoted to walnut production, 7,596 hectares of which correspond to irrigated land and 3,849 hectares to dry land. Production amounted to 17,542 tons.
In 2020, Spain exported 1,046 tons of walnuts in shell for € 3 million and 769 tons of shelled walnuts for € 5.4 million, according to data from the Customs and Special Tax Department processed by FEPEX. Meanwhile, the country imported 13,455 tons of walnuts in shell for 33.1 million euro and 15,633 tons of shelled walnuts for 106 million euro.
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