On August 28, USDA NASS released the Objective Measurement of the 2020 walnut crop at 780,000 short tons, an increase of 19% over the prior year. “The industry has been expecting increases given continued growth in new acreage, more densely planted orchards, and heavier yielding varieties and has planned accordingly,” stated grower Robert Driver, California Walnut Commission (CWC) Chairperson. “Demand creation for future crop utilization has been years in the making, with the industry’s strategic plan focused on growing sales in the U.S. domestic market and internationally.”

To take advantage of the large crop and continued demand, a tremendous growth opportunity exists in the U.S. market to expand all sectors of the walnut business across retail, food manufacturing/industrial and foodservice. “We have been planning for these larger crops by expanding consumption through all sectors,” said Michelle Connelly, Executive Director/CEO of the California Walnut Board and Commission (CWB/CWC). “Despite what you might think, per capita consumption of walnuts is only 0.6 pounds per year in the U.S., leaving an exceptional opportunity to further develop consumers’ love of walnuts.”

Efforts are underway to expand grocery retail presence through two national promotional campaigns, which include a program focused on growing the snacking segment. “While walnuts are not often thought of as a snack, our consumers are telling us otherwise with snacking becoming our top consumer use,” said Jennifer Olmstead, Marketing Director, Domestic PR at CWB/CWC. “Our goal is to make walnuts top-of-mind, not only for consumers, but for food manufacturers and foodservice as well. Not only are walnuts a versatile ingredient that can’t be overlooked, they are a powerhouse of nutrition – offering essential ALA omega-3 (2.5 g/oz.) and plant-based protein (4 g/oz.) – with benefits that are critical to consumers who are seeking healthy, clean, nutritious foods now more than ever.”

In the UK from Summer 2019 and throughout 2020, California walnuts conducted successful promotions in 8 major UK retail chains with a total store distribution of 1,860 stores, including brand new listings and SKU’s in 250 stores. New partnerships with food manufacturers using California walnuts has also increased with 3 manufacturers adding the California walnuts logo onto their packs. Future planned trade activities will also include UK foodservice as it gets back on its feet in 2021. In addition, a targeted consumer campaign built around the core idea of a handful of walnuts per day has been running in 2020 and will continue into 2021, generating further trial and increased demand for California walnuts.

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