Arnaud Rivière, CING

French walnut sector in crisis

With an exceptional 2022 harvest and the crisis in purchasing power, the Walnut of Grenoble PDO is experiencing difficulties. Arnaud Rivière, president of the Interprofessional Committee of the Walnut of Grenoble (CING) - which groups together 720 producers and 17 marketing operators, including 2 cooperatives - shared with FreshPlaza the difficulties faced by the Walnut of Grenoble PDO and the French walnut sector in general. He also gave some insight about the upcoming campaign.

On September 7th, the Interprofessional Committee of the Walnut of Grenoble (CING) held its general assembly. The meeting provided an opportunity to “review the actions taken by the committee over the past year and to establish the outlook for the next harvest, due to start in about a month / ©️ginette

2022: “A historic year in terms of volume”
2022 was “a historic year in terms of volume”, according to Arnaud Rivière. Production was high due to the absence of bad weather or diseases. But this overproduction did not just affect the walnut sector. “The harvests were very good in all French orchards. Overall, the French harvests were very large.” This overproduction coupled with the current crisis in purchasing power led to a very complicated start in terms of marketing. “The walnuts were very difficult to sell. Consumption fell by 20-30% while production rose by 30-40%, so the French walnut sector experienced a crisis in terms of sales and prices.”

Strong export competition
With this combination of overproduction and lower consumption in France, “we had to export more than in a normal year. Thanks to our location, we were able to export to some of our European neighbors, such as Germany and Italy, but we face stiff competition.” Arnaud Rivière advocates a return to French and European consumption. “There is no point importing walnuts from Tasmania, the United States or Chile for 20-30 cents/kg [0.21-0.32 USD/kg]!”


“We now need to bounce back”
The upcoming harvest should be “closer to normal in terms of volume, with good quality and large calibers.” But “at the moment, we cannot say if consumption will increase, get worse or remain the same.” According to Arnaud, “there is hope that things will return to normal because the calibers are in our favor this year, the quality is good and the harvest is normal. We now need to bounce back, and we will do everything we can to get there.”

New communication strategy for the Walnut of Grenoble PDO
In order to boost consumption, CING has decided to review its communication strategy, by stepping up its presence at international trade shows. “Last year, we took part in Fruit Logistica in Berlin, Macfrut in Rimini and the Walnut Symposium. This year, we will be at Fruit Attraction in Madrid.” The Walnut of Grenoble will also be more present on social networks and on its website, with a “renewed image” to appeal to the general public. “We want to refocus communication on local agriculture and our family farms, and to explain our activity and values to consumers.”


A new association to defend the French walnut
The Walnut of Grenoble and Walnut du Périgord producers have decided to join forces to form a new, more transversal association “that would represent all French producers and thus improve representation at the national level.” On September 5th, 200 producers gathered in the Isère department to create the “association of producers of southeastern France. Until now, each production basin was represented independently. Another important point is that, as Arnaud Rivière explains, “the PDO only represents production that has been awarded the label. For the Walnut of Grenoble, for example, we now account for 60-70% of the volumes produced in the Rhône-Alpes region, but there are 30 to 40% of production that cannot benefit from the label.”

For more information:
Arnaud Rivière
Comité Interprofessionnel de la Noix de Grenoble

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