Nuts

Walnuts: Chile needs to adapt

May 17, 2023 at 4:53 PM , Der AUDITOR
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SACRAMENTO/SANTIAGO. While good export results of US walnuts were achieved in the first quarter of 2023, April showed significantly weaker results. In addition, experts believe that the 2022 production result was better than previously forecast.

April exports slump by 24%

US walnut exports fell significantly in April. While domestic demand increased by 5% to 7,865 mt, export volumes shrank by almost a third year-on-year to 18,401 mt. A total of 26,266 mt of shelled and unshelled walnuts were shipped domestically and overseas, about 24% less than in the same month last year. The main buyers during this period were Japan (+242% to 2,878 mt), Turkey (-54% to 2,711 mt), Germany (-44% to 2,466 mt) and Korea (-4% to 1,706 mt).

Stronger domestic demand also ensured that overall declines in exports did not reduce total trade volumes this season. In fact, between September 2022 and April 2023, a total of 263,193 mt of US inshell and shelled walnuts were shipped domestically and internationally, similar to what was traded in the same period last year. However, while domestic demand increased by 16% to 74,320 mt, export shipments decreased by 5% to 188,873 mt during this period. Although shipments to countries such as Turkey (+% to 36,839 mt) and the United Arab Emirates (+75% to 22,918 mt) also increased, other important consumer countries, especially from the EU, reduced their imports significantly. On average, exports to Germany (-31% to 21,274 mt), Italy (-38% to 12,799 mt) and Spain (-26% to 12,192 mt) fell by one third.

US walnut* exports and domestic consumption, in mt

Destination

2021/22

2022/23

Diff.

USA

64,296

74,320

16%

Turkey

34,179

36,839

8%

UAE

13,078

22,918

75%

Germany

30,848

21,274

-31%

Italy

20,721

12,799

-38%

Spain

16,420

12,192

-26%

Japan

15,077

11,923

-21%

Korea

11,413

10,379

-9%

Canada

5,939

6,959

17%

UK

2,770

4,062

47%

Others

48,805

49,529

1%

Total

263,546

263,193

0%

California Walnuts; since the start of the season

*shelled and unshelled

Crop larger than expected

The preliminary crop result for US walnut production in 2022/2023 was estimated by California Walnuts at 678,456 mt. Olam experts even expect the data to be adjusted again in June and the final result to be closer to 690,000 mt. This would correspond to a 4-5% increase in production compared to the previous year. Despite the weakening exports, walnut stocks at the end of March 2023 (California Walnuts stock report) were not significantly above those of last year. It is important to note here that the US walnut crop in the 2020/2021 season had set a new record of 716,676 mt of inshell walnuts, while logistical hurdles affected exports. Accordingly, the market had started the 2021/2022 season with ample carry-over stocks. At the end of March, an estimated 105,058 mt of inshell walnuts were still available on the market, a decline of almost 11% compared to the previous year. At the same time, stocks of shelled walnuts had increased by 2.6% to 255,533 mt.

Record crop in Chile

Chile is enjoying a record walnut crop this year. However, prices here are significantly more expensive compared to other origins, especially for higher quality kernels. At this point, however, lower prices are not an option for growers and traders, who are hoping to make good profits nonetheless, according to Catz experts. In view of growing stocks on the world market, the country will have to adjust sooner or later in order to accommodate the additional production in the market.

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