Positive Outlook for Walnut Industry with Price Recommendation

Brian GermanIndustry, Nuts & Grapes, Walnuts

The walnut industry may be poised for a rebound after the Walnut Bargaining Association (WBA) revised its minimum price recommendation. This decision comes in response to a lowered estimate by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), attributed to the removal of walnut orchards during the past season. The WBA emphasizes the improved quality of the 2023 harvest, with many growers reporting it to be one of the best in recent memory. In light of these positive developments, the WBA urges handlers to structure grower returns around the minimum price of 70 cents per pound. This adjustment aims to address the grower return challenges of the past two years, which have taken their toll on California growers.

Walnut Industry

The California Walnut Commission (CWC), partnering with Land IQ, is working to gather accurate data about current walnut acreage in production. CWC CEO, Robert Verloop points out that the USDA estimate may not consider abandoned or stressed acres, potentially leading to further reductions in crop size. Another acreage update from Land IQ is expected in early November, providing a more comprehensive picture.

WBA Executive Director, Jonathan Field stresses the importance of industry collaboration to help walnut growers return to profitable levels. Most California walnut farmers need to receive at least 60 to 80 cents per pound to break even. Field notes that the WBA plans to initiate activities to assist growers in establishing fair contracts with handlers, promoting transparency in pricing.

Field emphasizes the impact of quality on walnut value, highlighting the challenges faced in 2021 and 2022 due to low-quality nuts. The WBA’s increased minimum price recommendation aligns with the goal of ensuring fair compensation for farmers, aiming to help them recover from the difficulties of the past seasons. The California walnut industry remains a significant player in the agricultural landscape, with a substantial portion of U.S. walnuts exported to markets such as Hong Kong and Europe. The reemergence of India as a market, lifting retaliatory tariffs on agricultural products, brings additional optimism for walnut exports.

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West