Walnut Situation and Outlook
The 1997/98 U.S. walnut crop is forecast at 208,650 tons, 11 percent above the revised previous year's output. Due to an earlier than usual spring, the crop is ahead of normal. Mild temperatures have resulted in the highest percentage of sound nuts in the last 10 years. Samples show low levels of sunburn and insect damage.
The United States is the world's largest walnut exporter. In 1997/98, U.S. walnut exports are forecast to increase 10 percent to 123,000 tons. The value and volume of U.S. walnut exports in 1996/97 reached record levels. Tariff reductions around the world resulting from the Uruguay Round agreement and various bilateral agreements have helped facilitate the growth in exports. Five markets accounted for 95 percent of U.S. in-shell exports in 1996/97: the European Union (EU) with 85 percent, Brazil and Canada at 3 percent each and Israel and Japan at 2 percent each. Retail consumers in these countries often serve in-shell walnuts as a snack during various holiday seasons. U.S. exports of shelled walnuts have a slightly different customer base. The top 5 markets in 1996/97 included Japan with 41 percent, the EU 21 percent, Canada 13 percent, Brazil 6 percent, and Israel 5 percent.
Using the Market Assistance Program, U.S. exporters are
working to promote walnuts in Brazil, Germany, Israel, Italy,
Japan, Korea, and Spain. Brazil and Korea are emerging markets
significant groups of affluent consumers. In Brazil, the marketing emphasis will be on consumers, especially during the advent season. Meanwhile, in Korea, where only shelled walnuts are allowed, the U.S. walnut industry has targeted the Korean Bakers Association to take advantage of the highly organized commercial baking industry. Germany, Italy, and Spain remain traditional markets for in-shell walnuts, a popular snack during winter holidays. Promotion campaigns in Germany have emphasized the healthful aspects of walnuts, while in Spain, the virtues of walnuts as a snack will be emphasized. Japan, the largest U.S. market for shelled walnuts, uses most walnuts in the food manufacturing industry.
China's 1997/98 walnut crop is forecast at 240,000 tons, less than 1 percent above the previous year's output. However, since 1990, production has gradually increased more than 37 percent. These increases reflect the general improvement of the Chinese walnut industry. Better varieties of trees, improved management of orchards, and more efficient agronomic practices have helped the industry.
Chinese walnut exports in 1997/98 are forecast at 50,000 tons, the same as the previous year's shipments. Chinese exports enter a variety of markets. Through June 1997, foreign sales of in-shell walnuts have expanded in Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Vietnam, and Hong Kong, mostly developing countries. Chinese shelled walnut exports go primarily to Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and the United States, all developed countries.
In 1997/98, the Turkish walnut crop is forecast unchanged from the previous year. However, based on the trend of slightly more bearing trees and the ongoing shift to better varieties, production should expand in the future as previously planted trees reach bearing age and more trees are planted.
Most observers believe that per capita consumption of walnuts in Turkey is relatively stable, with much of the increase in aggregate consumption resulting from rising population. Trade sources estimate that growers use about 50 percent of the crop at home with the remainder sold for commercial consumption. Most of the marketed walnuts are consumed whole with only a limited quantity processed to add value.
India's 1997/98 walnut crop is expected to decline 10 percent due to hail storms during May and June, a dry spell in July, and the alternate bearing of walnuts. Harvesting of walnuts is expected to begin in late September and continue through early November.
Walnut exports in 1997/98 are forecast to dip 3 percent to 16,000 tons. Most exports go to Western Europe. The top 5 customers in 1996/97 were Spain and France with 15 percent each, the United Kingdom 14 percent, Germany 13 percent, and the Netherlands 11 percent.
Indian walnut consumption patterns will likely remain unchanged with most walnuts being consumed during India's festival season from September to November.
Production of walnuts in 1997/98 is expected to increase 4 percent to 23,000 tons. An April 1997 frost destroyed some orchards in portions of Dordogne and Lot. However, high yields in other areas will likely more than offset these losses.
In 1997/98, exports are forecast to expand 4 percent. Most of these exports go to other countries of the European Union.
The size of France's domestic walnut crop dictates demand for imports. In 1996/97, the United States supplied 63 percent of France's in-shell walnut imports. China supplied 28 percent of the shelled walnuts.
The 1997/98 walnut harvest is expected to increase 25 percent to 15,000 tons. Weather conditions have favored crop development, and quality ranges from good to very good.
Exports play a small role in the Italian walnut industry with imports usually far more important. Imports of walnuts in 1997/98 are expected to decrease 30 percent due to the anticipated larger harvest. Italy sources most of its walnut imports from the United States, which supplied 88 percent of Italy's imported, in-shell walnuts in 1995/96. The U.S. share of the import market for shelled walnuts was a more modest 21 percent.
For further information on supply, distribution, and
trade contact William Janis at 202-720-0897. For information on
U.S. marketing opportunities, contact Ingrid Mohn at