California’s walnut crop is the largest commercially traded walnut crop in the world and as such it has a big influence on international market prices. Californian walnut kernel is commonly available in NZ and influences our prices.
The following table will be built up over time to show market conditions and prices in California.
‘The California walnut harvest season begins in late August so when they refer to a season it’s walnuts harvested in late August/September of that year.
In 2016 the average Californian price to growers, averaged over the total crop of 689,000 tons, was equivalent to NZ$3.16 per kg. (Source USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, 8 March 2020 exchange rate)
In 2019 Californian growers, for good quality Chandlers, received US .75¢ per pound, a ten year low. In the beginning of 2020 they were expecting to receive US$1.00 to $1.15 per pound for the same quality of nuts. (Source private grower). US$.75¢ per pound equals NZ$2.60 per Kg and US$1.00 per pound equals NZ$3.46 per Kg (8 March 2020 exchange rate)
June 2020 Grower Direct Newsletter
Expecting the 2020 crop to be 700,000 tons with 85 to 95 thousand tons carried over from the last season. Retailers are holding small inventories and its expected that prices will be soft.
July 2020, Alpine Pacific Newsletter
Prices continue to be low. Plenty of negative news to go around. 2020 California Crop likely to set a production record. (Harvest late August). New plantings 13,000 acres, down from 26,000 in 2015. Chile’s 2020 harvest 140,000 short tons, down from 2019. China is a growth exporter at the moment and they have higher yielding varieties, (than California). Covid-19 hasn’t affected retail sales to households but there’s a big impact on the food service sector. Californian walnuts are facing big tariff problems in many markets. Positive news is that the carryover crop from last season is now all gone. Retail sales volumes are increasing. Lower prices are increasing household consumption. These’s a slowdown in walnut plantings.
August 2020 Grower Direct Newsletter
Expecting that there will be a total of 800,000 tons to sell in the coming season. Expecting lower prices.
This year Californian walnut shipments from distributors to the market is 6% behind the same time last year however June is the first month in the last 7 that there was a year on year increase.
Shelled 2019/20 shipments from California to Germany have increased by a big 40% and Spain 6%. Decreased to USA (home market) -1%, Korea -12%
In Shell increases to Turkey 4%, Italy 1% and India 25%. Decreases to UAE -43%, China -23%, Spain -1%.
Grower Direct has been investing in cost saving equipment.
November 2020, Alpine Pacific Newsletter
Estimate grower returns will be 40% less than 2019 prices. All tree nut prices have been impacted by Covid uncertainty and trade barriers. They report that their growers have lost money 2 out of the last 3 years.
Californian production for the season is likely to be a little under 780,000 tons. THE LARGEST INCREASE IN PRODUCTION IN THE HISTORY OF CALIFORNIAN WALNUTS.
The Chilean crop is estimated to be up 25% as well.
In the US, Covid means that there is a lot of uncertainty so wholesalers and retailers are careful buyers holding smaller inventories. Covid has caused plenty of logistical problems
Consumption is increasing, but production is increasing faster than demand. However lower prices help customers buy more
The hope is that prices to growers will rise back to US $1 possibly as early as 2021. (US $1 per pound equals NZ $3.14 per kg. 25 November 2020 exchange rate)
Current payout is equal to NZ $1.88 per kilo.
March 2021 Grower Direct Newsletter
Highlights problems caused by Covid 19. For the California industry as a whole maybe 116,000 tons of last season’s crop won’t be sold in the normal selling season. Transport, logistics and tariffs are all problems.
The Californian production has increased faster than ever and they believe that the problems will be solved quickly when business gets back to normal after the pandemic.
There are probably low inventories in the food distribution industry and good potential when the food service, and restaurant business gets going again after Covid.