Walnuts: suppliers defy attacks

January 30, 2024 at 9:56 AM , Der AUDITOR
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KYIV/SANTIAGO. Ukraine’s agrifood exports may have declined by 7% to USD 21.8 billion in 2023. Yet, figures also show how resilient the market is, especially for walnuts. In Chile, the climate crisis will impact this year’s production as first crop estimates show.

Resilient supply chain in Ukraine

Revenues from fruits, berries and nuts only reached USD 257 million in 2023, 18% less than in 2022 according to the Ukrainian Agrarian Export Association (UAE). Yet, it should be noted that the decline is mainly driven by frozen berries and fruits (-31% to USD 132 million) rather than by shelled and inshell walnuts, which witnessed a more moderate decrease of 4% to USD 77 million. Berries even generated USD 18 million, which is 31% up.

Export volumes, however, paint a different picture. Walnut exports, in fact, recovered by 21% to 31,000 mt, berry exports by 19% to 5,000 mt and for frozen fruit exports by 3% to 87,000 mt. The UAE views this as a positive signal since international market dynamics are responsible for this development rather than disruptions caused by the war. Walnuts and frozen fruits are evidently caught up in a global price reduction trend that caused rates to slump. The same also applies for eggs and honey. Suppliers have succeeded in maintaining exports and expectation is that if Ukraine continues to make good use of its own temporary sea corridor, food exports will become less impacted by unpredictable restrictions and sudden bans issued by neighbouring EU countries. This will simplify logistics and reduce transport costs. Around 80% of Ukraine’s horticultural products are shipped to the EU.

First crop estimate in Chile

Trade Association Chilenut has issued the first estimate for the 2024 walnut crop as local media report. As the surface area on which walnuts are grown has decreased and the orchards are not in good shape the crop is only expected to range at 160,000 mt, which is 6% down on the estimated 170,000 mt produced in 2023. Issue is that recent counts have shown that walnut trees have lost a total of 1,606 ha in the important producing regions of Valparaíso and Metropolitana since the last count took place in 2020. The water crisis will also impact productivity, which is preventing growers from irrigating and maintaining the orchards. Silver lining is that climatic problems have not affected the development of the nuts so far and hope is that the quality will be better than last year.


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