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California walnut industry expects 10 percent bump in crop yield over 2017

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service California Field Office released the annual crop estimate for California walnuts, predicting the 2018 annual yield to be 690,000 tons.  

The 2018 estimate is 10 percent higher than the 2017 crop and is slightly higher than the 2016 crop of 689,000 tons. According to California Walnut Commission Chairman Bill Carriere, “This year presents a unique set of challenges as a result of increased tariffs in three of our key markets; however, we continue to see strong demand for California walnuts both domestically and internationally. With California walnuts’ exceptional quality and taste, our industry is confident that we will meet the growing global demand.”

Despite increased tariffs in China, India and Turkey, the CWC is cautiously optimistic that ongoing negotiations will resolve these issues. The CWC has been actively involved in discussions with congressional leadership, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Trade Representative in making sure industry concerns have been heard and that the California walnut industry is included in tariff discussions as well as relief measures, where appropriate.

The CWC will continue to support programs in all markets, including the tariff-affected countries, where it has active export marketing programs. The three markets affected accounted for an estimated 15.4 percent of the 2017-18 crop year-to-date.

“Despite these challenges in some of our global markets, we are encouraged by strong consumer demand as well as recent product innovation,” said Michelle Connelly, executive director of the California Walnut Board and chief executive officer of the California Walnut Commission. “Consumers around the world enjoy California walnuts because they add nutritious crunch to meals and snacks throughout the day while also offering a wide variety of health benefits.”

In the U.S. market, the California Walnut Board will raise visibility in September with the relaunch of national consumer advertising. Ads will run on national cable channels, in food and lifestyle publications, and on digital media. Retail promotion will increase with expanded markets during February’s Heart Month along with other key promotions throughout the year.

In international markets, the California Walnut Commission will continue its activities of print and digital advertising during the fall and winter months, in-store displays and demonstrations, educational seminars, and other promotions to both trade and consumers.

The California walnut industry is made up of more than 4,800 walnut growers and nearly 100 walnut handlers spread across California’s Central Valley. California walnuts account for more than 99 percent of the commercial U.S. supply and roughly two-thirds of world trade. The industry annually generates $1.5 billion in farm gate revenue and supports some 85,000 jobs directly and indirectly.