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

4 comments on “China: A Game Changer For Walnuts

Nuts Stories
(Photo credit: David Eddy)
Nuts
July 6, 2016
Almond Crop Expected To Rise By 8%
Growers report better chill hours and a stronger bloom than in 2015. Read More
(Photo credit: USDA NCRS)
Citrus
July 5, 2016
Citrus, Pistachio Researchers Named First UC Endowed Chairs
Extension advisors named University of California Cooperative Extension Presidential Chairs to study pistachio production systems. Read More
The ARS Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Lab and the Louisiana Armed Forces Foundation are teaching beekeeping to veterans. (Photo credit: Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS)
Farm Management
July 4, 2016
Beekeeping Gives Veterans New Opportunities
Workshop helps introduce veterans to the biology behind keeping bees. Read More
Varroa mites, like the one attached to the back of this honey bee, can decimate unprotected hives. The tiny parasites feed on the bees' blood and can infect them with harmful viruses. (Photo credit: Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS)
Fruits
June 28, 2016
Bees May Accidentally Bring Varroa Mites Into Their Hives
A USDA research team is learning that mite populations often spike in the fall, due to migration into the hives. Read More
Photo credit: USDA
Farm Management
June 28, 2016
USDA Announces Conservation Programs, Partnerships During National Pollinator Week
USDA, industry organizations join up to ensure conservation efforts include pollinators. Read More
Close-up of a brown stink bug
Fruits
June 22, 2016
Florida Growers Warned To Beware Of Brown Stink Bugs
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this insect pest. Read More
Walnuts
Nuts
June 22, 2016
Walnut Acreage Grows At Double-Digit Pace
Walnut acreage in California is continuing its rapid growth with 2015 estimates at 365,000 acres, according to the USDA. It Read More
The Latest
Nuts
July 28, 2016
Tips For Late-Planting Potted Trees
Historically, the establishment of deciduous orchards was typified by planting bare-rooted trees during dormancy. With the advent of technology and Read More
Nuts
July 15, 2016
Almond Board Funding Groundwater Recharg…
The Almond Board of California (ABC) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy lab managed by Read More
Irrigation
July 14, 2016
New Tool Calculates Almond Orchard Water…
A new irrigation calculator tool may help almond growers who want to maximize irrigation efficiency to conserve water, a vital Read More
Nuts
July 6, 2016
Almond Crop Expected To Rise By 8%
Growers report better chill hours and a stronger bloom than in 2015. Read More
Citrus
July 5, 2016
Citrus, Pistachio Researchers Named Firs…
Extension advisors named University of California Cooperative Extension Presidential Chairs to study pistachio production systems. Read More
Farm Management
July 4, 2016
Beekeeping Gives Veterans New Opportunit…
Workshop helps introduce veterans to the biology behind keeping bees. Read More
Fruits
June 28, 2016
Bees May Accidentally Bring Varroa Mites…
A USDA research team is learning that mite populations often spike in the fall, due to migration into the hives. Read More
Farm Management
June 28, 2016
USDA Announces Conservation Programs, Pa…
USDA, industry organizations join up to ensure conservation efforts include pollinators. Read More
Fruits
June 22, 2016
Florida Growers Warned To Beware Of Brow…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this insect pest. Read More
Nuts
June 22, 2016
Walnut Acreage Grows At Double-Digit Pac…
Walnut acreage in California is continuing its rapid growth with 2015 estimates at 365,000 acres, according to the USDA. It Read More
Nuts
June 21, 2016
Almond Board Develops Classroom Curricul…
California school students could add a lesson on almonds to their traditional reading, writing and arithmetic. The Almond Board of Read More
Citrus
June 14, 2016
Monsanto Rejects Second Bid From Bayer
Wall Street Journal reports Monsanto seeks bid increase from Bayer. Read More
Disease Control
June 7, 2016
Avoid Almond Hull Rot With Deficit Irrig…
As growers approach almond harvest later this summer, strategies to reduce the likelihood of hull rot should be a top Read More
Farm Management
June 6, 2016
Agriculture Company Fined For Deadly Exp…
A California agricultural firm has been cited and fined more than $40,000 for a 2015 Bakersfield explosion that killed a Read More
Disease Control
June 1, 2016
Fumigation, Proper Rootstocks Key To Con…
Much remains mysterious about Prunus Replant Disease (PRD) and exactly how it operates to suppress growth of young replanted almond Read More
Nuts
May 31, 2016
Keep Resistant Weeds At Bay While Not Br…
Rather than focusing all of a pre-emergent spray program in the winter to attack winter-emerging weeds, University of California Cooperative Read More
Farm Management
May 27, 2016
California Drought Far From Over
To preserve orchards and vineyards, growers are expected to fallow up to 350,000 acres of corn, wheat, cotton and alfalfa. Read More
Insect Control
May 26, 2016
Temperature, Location Key To Predicting …
This year, leaffooted bugs are expected to be a significant problem in almonds and pistachios, but watching temperature and the Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]