An analysis of California walnut production from Rabobank Group details how a surge in production has led to steep declines in walnut prices.
The report, “California Walnuts — Confronting Growing Production,” points to walnut production increasing nearly 65% in the last 10 years compared with the previous decade. The increased production has caused a bottoming out of market prices, a 30% to 50% drop depending on the cultivar.
“Market prices for California walnuts began to see a gradual decline beginning in September 2014, and a more severe drop late last season — in June 2015,” according to the report. “In recent months. Combos — a mix of varieties and light and dark meats — and darker meats hit a price floor, and have since strengthened somewhat.”
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that California had 300,000 bearing walnut acres and 65,000 non-bearing acres in 2015. That’s 25% more bearing acres since 2009.
“During the last ten years, U.S. walnut acreage has increased by 100,000 total acres — current estimates suggest that non-bearing acreage is approximately 65,000 acres,” according to the Rabobank report. “Even if older, lower yielding orchards are removed in California, its harvest is projected to be more than 700 thousand in-shell equivalent tons by 2020.”