China: A Game Changer For Walnuts

Demand for California walnuts in markets around the world has elevated walnuts to the fourth-leading export from the state, valued at $970 million. Fueled by both increasing export demand and increased production, the industry has experienced record growth in the last 10 years, reaching $1.32 billion in farm gate revenue during the 2011 crop year. Production has nearly doubled in the past 10 years to reach 496,000 short tons with 58% of the crop now being exported to countries in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

China has become the leading export market for California walnuts, with more than 101 million in-shell equivalent pounds shipped in 2011. In-shell walnuts are predominantly used by the snacking sector, where they are flavored and slightly cracked for consumer consumption. Walnuts are also processed for kernel use in snacks, such as sweet amber-coated walnuts, and for use in the baking and beverage sectors.

The industry estimates that the baking and processed food sectors account for 60% of volume in China. Expanding distribution through export development programs has led the industry to regionally grow consumption of walnuts beyond the major cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou to Chengdu, Shenzhen, and Northern China. Promotion to the trade has increased the visibility and use of walnuts through bakery and retail promotions in addition to partnerships with key associations such as the Restaurant Association in Chengdu.

Health Education

The California Walnut Commission (CWC) marketing program educates Chinese consumers to California walnuts’ quality, taste, versatility, and health benefits. Fully 65% of consumers are now aware of California as a producer, and purchase walnuts because the nuts are healthy, good for the heart, and reduce cholesterol. The CWC emphasizes these attributes in public relations and advertising campaigns to, “build upon traditionally held beliefs that walnuts are good for health,” says the CWC Chief Executive Officer Dennis A. Balint.

Snacking remains the primary use for walnuts. However, walnuts’ versatility as an ingredient continues to grow, with consumers indicating they use walnuts in beverages, breakfast cereals, and in home baking. Purchase rates continue to see dramatic increases year over year with consumers purchasing in-shell walnuts 4.9 times annually, shelled walnuts 4.2 times annually, and products containing walnuts 8.6 times annually.

The California walnut industry has continued to experience strong demand from China, which is interesting because China is the world’s largest producer of walnuts. Chinese production is estimated at 500,000 short tons. However, exports have continued to fall while California imports have sharply increased, thereby making China a net importer of walnuts.

Middle Class Growth

The huge increase in walnuts imported from California is due to the increasing affluence of China’s middle class, which is currently estimated at 300 million people. They are developing purchase behaviors that have contributed to the market expansion. Chinese consumers increasingly seek out food choices that are safe, and imported food products are often viewed favorably. Although estimates vary, analysts project China’s middle class to reach 700 million people by 2020 which, for the foreseeable future, will continue to drive demand for imported food products, including walnuts.  

The California walnut industry’s commitment to market development, by growing consumer awareness of walnuts’ many benefits, continues to yield favorable results. Global consumption continues to increase, allowing the industry to fully utilize production gains. As the industry looks to the future, continued expansion of export markets will be critical to future production gains. New emerging markets, such as India, will play a vital role in developing the industry’s future consumers.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

3 comments on “China: A Game Changer For Walnuts

Nuts Stories
Mark Jansen
Photo: Blue Diamond Growers
Nuts
January 27, 2016
Almond Industry 2016 Preview
American and Western Fruit Grower talked with Blue Diamond Growers President and CEO Mark Jansen about the health of the Read More
(Photo credit: Lindsay Turner)
Nuts
January 26, 2016
Thefts Plaguing California Tree Nut Industry
Thieves have been taking off with truckloads of tree nuts valued as much as a half million dollars, and catching Read More
NASA's global temperature heat map for 2015
Citrus
January 22, 2016
It’s Official: 2015 Was Earth’s Warmest Year On Record
NASA, NOAA analyses reveal record-shattering statistics regarding global temperatures this past year. Read More
Example of an extended weather forecast
Citrus
January 21, 2016
Chance Of Profits Up For Growers Tuned Into The Weather
UF/IFAS study confirms how paying attention to the 10-day forecast can affect a farmer’s bottom line. Read More
Weeds in strawberry for web
Apples & Pears
January 20, 2016
Herbicide Flood Irrigation Application Approved for California Orchards And Vineyards
Crops include stone fruit, pome fruit, grapes, tree nuts, and olives. Read More
almond orchard
Nuts
January 20, 2016
Regional Trials Pinpoint Almond Varieties With Highest Potential
Since the 1970s, the Almond Board of California has been trialing varieties regionally to determine the best and brightest trees Read More
baskets of produce
Citrus
January 20, 2016
USDA Report: Pesticide Residues Not A Food Safety Concern
Following monthly samplings, survey finds more than 99% of products sampled fall below EPA tolerances for pesticide residues. Read More
The Latest
Nuts
February 3, 2016
Avoid Tree Nut Cargo Theft
American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® recently reported on a rash of nut thefts, in which truckloads of nuts Read More
Nuts
February 3, 2016
Tips To Help Secure A Good Beekeeper Agr…
Pollination is one of the most important aspects of almond growing, and this time of year, making sure you have Read More
Fruits
February 2, 2016
EPA Releases List Of Products Labeled Fo…
Agency gives recommendations on products to protect hives against parasites. Read More
Nuts
January 27, 2016
Almond Industry 2016 Preview
American and Western Fruit Grower talked with Blue Diamond Growers President and CEO Mark Jansen about the health of the Read More
Nuts
January 26, 2016
Thefts Plaguing California Tree Nut Indu…
Thieves have been taking off with truckloads of tree nuts valued as much as a half million dollars, and catching Read More
Citrus
January 22, 2016
It’s Official: 2015 Was Earth’s Wa…
NASA, NOAA analyses reveal record-shattering statistics regarding global temperatures this past year. Read More
Citrus
January 21, 2016
Chance Of Profits Up For Growers Tuned I…
UF/IFAS study confirms how paying attention to the 10-day forecast can affect a farmer’s bottom line. Read More
Apples & Pears
January 20, 2016
Herbicide Flood Irrigation Application A…
Crops include stone fruit, pome fruit, grapes, tree nuts, and olives. Read More
Nuts
January 20, 2016
Regional Trials Pinpoint Almond Varietie…
Since the 1970s, the Almond Board of California has been trialing varieties regionally to determine the best and brightest trees Read More
Citrus
January 20, 2016
USDA Report: Pesticide Residues Not A Fo…
Following monthly samplings, survey finds more than 99% of products sampled fall below EPA tolerances for pesticide residues. Read More
Nuts
January 15, 2016
Researchers Crack Walnut Genome
Genetic sequencing paves the way for better breeding. Read More
Citrus
January 13, 2016
American Farm Bureau Elects New Presiden…
Georgia farmer Zippy Duvall to take leadership reins from retiring Bob Stallman. Read More
Farm Management
January 8, 2016
USDA Says China Slowing U.S. Agriculture…
International trade is a major factor in the American agricultural economy. A key player is China. In fact China’s impact Read More
Farm Management
January 5, 2016
Southeast Fruit And Nut Growers Cheer Fo…
Peach, pecan, and berry growers in Georgia and other Southeast states experienced unseasonably warm temperatures for much of November and Read More
Fruits
January 2, 2016
USDA Surveys Honey Bee Colony Health
Growers, beekeepers asked to record cost for pollination services, production, to create baseline as part of larger strategy to promote bee health. Read More
Citrus
December 30, 2015
El Niño Continues To Look Strong
Latest satellite images show strong resemblance to those taken in 1997, which was a California super-soaker. Read More
Citrus
December 30, 2015
GenNext Growers, Where Are You?
This issue marks our first of its kind State of the Industry report. We, the editorial team of American Fruit Read More
Apples & Pears
December 28, 2015
FruitGrowerConnect Solves Growers’ Probl…
More than 35 grower and supplier operations gathered at the beautiful Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego in November for Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]