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Walnuts: US keen to fill gaps left by Chile

August 15, 2023 at 8:32 AM , Der AUDITOR
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FOLSOM/SANTIAGO. While the season has been fraught with difficulties for US suppliers, exports have certainly picked up in Chile.

US exports only nominally up

US monthly shipments reached a grand total of 5 million pounds of inshell walnuts and 33 million pounds of shelled walnuts in July. Shelled walnut shipments were 15% up on July 2022 and inshell shipments 37% up. Domestic shipments were particularly strong as inshell shipments nearly doubled to 550,977 pounds and shelled shipments rose by 44% t0 21.953 million pounds. Exports rose by a more nominal 8% for inshells to 4.992 million pounds and by 26% to 11.396 million pounds for shelled walnuts.

Year-to-date shipments show an even more diverging trend. Domestic shipments are, in fact, 4.7% up at 11.558 million pounds for inshell walnuts and as much as 29% up for shelled walnuts, whereas exports have declined by 4% to 229.438 million pounds for inshell walnuts and by 9% to 261.979 million pounds for shelled walnuts. Promotional retail activities and USDA purchases have helped to stimulate domestic demand in recent months. Grand total shipments are 4% down for inshell walnuts at 240.997 million pounds, but 5% up for shelled walnuts at 489.211 million pounds. Accumulated shipments are 2% up at 730.208 million pounds, of which domestic shipments account for 32%. Turkey is the most important export destination by far, followed by Germany and the United Arab Emirates.

US walnut shipments, inshell and shelled (in 1,000 pounds)

Destination

2021/22

2022/23

Diff.

USA

187,672

238,790

27.2%

Turkey

89,413

91,020

1.8%

Germany

86,038

60,456

-29.8%

UAE

35,291

52,172

47.8%

Japan

41,598

36,892

-11.4%

Spain

40,404

30,779

-23.0%

Italy

46,530

29,335

-37.0%

Korea

30,348

29,308

-3.5%

Canada

16,255

18,900

16.3%

Netherlands

21,695

18,572

-14.4%

Algeria

7,827

17,412

122.5%

Others

112,557

106,657

-5.3%

Total

715,630

730,208

2.04%

California Walnut Board, 01/09-31/07

Crop to arrive just in time

As cheap supplies from China flooded the market international demand has been exceptionally low for US walnuts this season so far according to the California Walnut Board. Although China is expected to produce an equally large crop of 1.400 million mt (3.086 billion pounds) in 2023/2024, prospects in California will be better next season. Issue is that the persistent heavy rains in winter helped to restore soil moisture after years of drought thereby making the trees more resilient towards the present high temperatures. Low prices partly prompted by an oversupply of darker kernels, however, prompted some growers to remove orchards and the acreage survey conducted by the California Walnut Board between October 2022 and June 2023 showed a decline of 23,000 acres for the first time on record. As the trees are in good shape growers are, nevertheless, upbeat about the crop and the USDA will release an official estimate on 01 September. Present projections, however, show that US production will range 3% lower than last year at 658,000 mt (1.450 billion pounds). Expectation is that the US crop will arrive just in time to fill any gaps left by dwindling inshell supplies in Chile.

Chile exports 20% up

Exports have, in fact, performed quite well for Chile in 2023 as ChileNut reports. The country exported a total of 66,973 mt of inshells and 11,022 mt of shelled walnuts between the start of the season on 21 March and 31 July as ChileNut reports. While inshell shipments have risen by 25%, shelled shipments have declined by 6%. Issue is that higher margins are available for kernels. Accumulated exports have reached 77,996 mt (172 million pounds) in 2023, which is 19% up on the 65,240 mt (144 million pounds) shipped overseas in the same period last year. Since shipments to India have more than doubled, the country is the most important export destination for Chile by far. Shipments to Turkey and Italy are also up. By contrast, shipments to the United Arab Emirates, Germany and the Netherlands as well as Brazil have declined sharply. Demand for Chilean walnuts has, however, slowed at present, especially since large volumes have arrived in India.

Walnut exports, Chile, inshell and shelled (in mt)

Destination

2022

2023

Diff.

India

14,327

30,746

114.6%

Turkey

14,055

17,791

26.6%

Italy

5,380

6,158

14.5%

Spain

4,715

4,836

2.6%

Morocco

4,419

4,404

-0.3%

China

1,901

1,922

1.1%

UAE

6,321

1,461

-76.9%

Germany

2,115

1,272

-39.9%

Netherlands

1,370

866

-36.8%

Brazil

1,112

815

-26.7%

Others

9,525

7,723

-18.9%

Total

65,240

77,996

19.5%

ChileNut, 21/03-31/07

 

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