California Walnuts Face Threatening Tariffs

Big Challenges For the Walnut Industry

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

It takes one glance at current news headlines to know that agriculture trade is a hot-button issue within the industry. Amongst countless exported crops being hindered by tariffs, the California walnut industry is no different. With California English walnuts making up two-thirds of the world’s trade, the California Walnut Commission is on high alert to ensure that growers are protected from tariffs that could damage their markets.

Pamela Graviet, the commission’s senior marketing director, spoke deeper on this issue.

Pam Graviet

“If you look at the three major markets—China, Turkey, and India—where we have tariff issues,” Graviet said, “that represents twenty percent of our total shipments … it’s over $300 million we’re going to lose.”

Thus far, the walnut industry has avoided paying the full tariff direct to China through the “gray market,” or the sales of walnuts through other countries that feed into China.

“But when you’re tariff constrained or in a trade war” Graviet explained, “they are also cracking down on those other routes, and the gray market has also suffered.”

The California Walnut Commission will continue their work to protect nearly 100 handlers and 4,800+ growers that make up the California walnut industry.

2018-10-11T14:42:10-07:00October 11th, 2018|

Walnut Blight Protection is Important

Disease Prevention in Walnut Orchards

By Brianne Boyett, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Jim Adaskaveg, professor of plant pathology at UC Riverside. He’s a plant pathologist, microbiologist and epidemiologist. He discussed the importance of protecting walnut trees from walnut blight.

Adaskaveg explained how walnut blight is problematic due to the higher rainfall in the northern part of the state.

“We’ve been working on this for a number of years, and overall, the northern part of the state is always higher at risk because of the higher rainfall in Glenn County,” he said. “There is much higher risk for disease in Northern California, so a lot of the growers have planted later blooming varieties such as Chandler to avoid the blight infections.”

“Rick Buchner [at UC Cooperative Extension] Tehama County and his group called that the prayer stage, which is when the female flower becomes exposed as it emerges from the bud. Those two timings would be for high disease pressure. If you had a history of the disease and you know that the disease is in your orchard, then we would suggest that timing,” Adaskaveg said.

“If you don’t have disease, and you still want to protect yourself, we say just spray at the pistillate flower emergence or the prayer stage. That sets a good way to initiate the spray program,” Adaskaveg explained.

Growers must keep in mind canopy expansion when applying materials.

“Walnuts are big trees, and as they go through bloom, all the leaves started emerging almost weekly. The tree canopy in that first three weeks of the season is doubling in size. By the time you get three or four weeks after that, the catkin flowering trees in full canopy will require a reapplication of materials,” Adaskaveg said.

2021-05-12T11:01:57-07:00December 29th, 2017|

Navel Orangeworm Control Critical

Orchard Sanitation is Critical This Season To Lower NOW Numbers

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Emily Symmes is the area Integrated Pest Management farm advisor for the Sacramento Valley in the statewide IPM program. She recently spoke to California Ag Today about the high level of Navel Orangeworm (NOW) damage in nut orchards throughout California this past season.

“We had a lot of unique circumstances. The amount of rainfall we got in late 2016 into 2017 was pretty unprecedented and really led us into a really bad navel orangeworm year because we couldn’t get out and sanitize our nut crops,” she said.

Emily Symmes

“NOW is ubiquitous, and there is an increased nut crop footprint in California, with more than one million acres of almonds, plus pistachios and walnuts,” Symmes explained. “All play host to NOW, as well as a host of natural plants. This thing isn’t going anywhere. And it was pretty bad in 2017 in terms of harvest damage.”

One of the key factors for higher navel orangeworm damage was not being able to get into the fields because of the standing water.

“There were a couple of other factors as well. Typically, rainfall and moist conditions can help NOW mortality in the winter. We tend to think that it can help rot the nuts and do us some favors, but we have to be able to get out and get the nuts shaken or get pulling crews in and get those things on the ground. And then them being on the ground is not always a sure thing. Sanitation was huge in terms of NOW problems this year,” Symmes said.

Heat units also played a part in the development of more NOW pressure. There were a lot of moths flying around longer and laying eggs.

“It got hot in mid to late June, and it seemed to just not let up. What that meant was, in terms of our degree-day models or the heat unit that drive insect development, it ended up getting pretty far out ahead of what is typical, if there is anything such as typical. But certainly ahead of the last couple of years,” Symmes explained.

By September, we were about two weeks ahead in degree-days and that means that the moths were out earlier. They’re flying around. They’re laying eggs on the nuts when they’re still on the trees.

Symmes stressed that the importance of sanitation is to minimize the site where the NOWs mature.

“It’s really important to remember that sanitation efforts aren’t just directly killing any worms that are over-wintering in your orchard. Yes, it does that. But it also minimizes those sites where your first and second generations are going to develop next year,” she said.

2021-05-12T11:01:58-07:00November 29th, 2017|

Worker Safety During Nut Harvest – Part 1

Nut Harvest Safety –  Part 1

By Patrick Cavanaugh Farm News Director

Safety is very important, especially when working with heavy machinery. As most farm accidents and fatalities involve machinery, farm safety begins with educating and preparing workers for emergency situations, and making them aware of hazards. California Ag Today interviewed Paul Williams, a senior loss prevention consultant with the State Compensation Insurance Fund, regarding nut harvest safety.

“The hazards are primarily with walnuts and almonds. They tend to stir up more dust in the harvest process,” Williams said. “There are respiratory issues that employees need to be protected from.”

“There’s also a need for hearing protection with any type of farm equipment. A lot of times, you’re sitting there all day at elevated levels of noise – there’s potential for hearing loss. Hearing loss is often overlooked because it’s slow acting, but it can have a huge effect on workers lives down the road,” Williams explained. “It’s important to be aware of it as a factor, and we talking about it as one season, probably not going to be any noticeable … you do that for 20 and 30 seasons, and you’re not able to understand your grandchildren when they talk to you. It’s one of those things that sneaks up on you.”

Williams said there are also a lot of safety issues with farm equipment and transportation. “You’re driving a slow-moving vehicle down a county road at 10 miles an hour, and you’ve got impatient drivers who want to pass you. Many drivers are not paying attention at all and they rear-end your equipment,” Williams said. That happened in Kingsburg a couple weeks ago.

This is always a danger whenever you’re transporting harvesting equipment or any kind of farm equipment on a county road. “It’s always nice if you have a pilot car; it’s always nice if you have a truck behind with their flashers on, trying to control traffic and periodically being a good neighbor and pulling over and letting traffic get by you when that’s possible,” Williams said.

For more information on safety on the farm, go to: http://www.agsafe.org/

2017-09-02T23:57:46-07:00August 7th, 2017|

Another Record Season for Walnuts

Walnut Yield Could Continue to Increase Over Next Few Years

By Brian German, Associate Broadcaster

October was the peak of harvest for the state’s biggest tree nut crops: almonds, pistachios and walnuts. California growers have completed this year’s walnut harvest, and so far growers are pleased with the yields. Final statistics for California walnut production in 2016 will not be available until mid- to late-January 2017.

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)’s 2015 estimate of 365 thousand walnut acres in California (of which 300 thousand were bearing acres), represents a 50 percent increase versus a decade ago, according to Dennis Balint. Balint, who just retired as longtime executive director of the Folsom-based California Walnut Board and CEO of the California Walnut Commission since 1995, became the new special assistant to the California Walnut Board on November 1, 2016.

Dennis-Balint, California Walnuts

Dennis-Balint, California Walnuts

Growers had a record walnut harvest last year, and this year looks even more promising. “This year’s crop estimate from USDA’s California Agricultural Statistic Service (CASS) is 670 thousand tons, an 11 percent increase over last year’s 603,000 tons. 

The NASS office in Sacramento, as relayed by Balint, reported this year’s walnut season began with a significant amount of winter moisture, along with an ample amount of chilling hours and average weather conditions during walnut bloom.  Springtime rain concerned some growers because of the increased chances of blight and any resulting damage is under assessment.

While overall weather conditions were advantageous for growers, results were varied. “If you’re in Reading or Modesto, or Visalia, different factors affected you: climates, your own horticultural practices, what varieties you’re growing, etc.,” said Balint.

The estimate of this year’s harvest is good news for growers who, not many years ago, were fortunate to harvest merely 300,000 tons. Even with the estimated record harvest, there are still close to 80,000 acres of younger, nonbearing walnut trees in the state. Balint commented, “As those acres mature and come into production over the next few years—all things being equal—California’s walnut harvest could potentially increase by another 30 to 40 thousand tons per year.”

california-walnut-boardBalint also reported the Walnut Board has four tests in the grocery marketplace to determine how to increase stores’ holiday inventory of walnuts. [EDITOR’S NOTE: For fans of inshell walnuts, buy your supply early and often. Inventory of inshell walnuts is not expected to extend beyond the holidays.]

As of November 1, 2016, board members of the California Walnut Industry appointed Michelle Mcneil Connelly, former senior marketing director, as executive director of the California Walnut Board and as CEO of the California Walnut Commission.


Links:

The California Walnut Board was established in 1948 to represent the walnut growers and handlers of California. The Board is funded by mandatory assessments of the handlers. The California Walnut Commission, established in 1987, is funded by mandatory assessments of the growers.

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service California Field Office is operated in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

2016-11-17T13:33:58-08:00November 16th, 2016|

Walnut Assessment to Increase

California Walnut Board To Raise Assessment for Domestic Marketing

By Laurie Greene, Editor

 

Dennis Balint, executive director, California Walnut Board; president and CEO, California Walnut Commissionexplained to California Ag Today (CAT) the Board’s proposed increase in the marketable kernel pound weight assessment for the upcoming marketing year. The industry can  comment until Oct. 17, 2016 at the Federal Registry website using the following link:

Marketing Order No. 984, Walnuts Grown in California; Increased Assessment Rate”

Balint: This proposed rule would implement a recommendation from the California Walnut Board (Board) to increase the assessment rate established for the 2016-17 year and subsequent marketing years from $0.0379 to $0.0465 per kernel pound weight of assessable walnuts.

The Board, comprised of growers and handlers of walnuts operating within the area of production, locally administers the marketing order. Assessments upon walnut handlers are used by the Board to fund reasonable and necessary expenses of the program. The marketing year begins September 1 and ends August 31. The assessment rate would remain in effect indefinitely unless modified, suspended, or terminated.

California walnut orchard

California walnut orchard

The Board derived the recommended assessment rate by dividing anticipated assessment revenue needed by estimated shipments of California walnuts “certified as merchantable.” The 553,000-ton (inshell) estimate for merchantable shipments is an average of shipments during three prior years.

Pursuant to § 984.51(b) of the order, this figure is converted to a merchantable kernel weight basis using a factor of 0.45 (553,000 tons × 2,000 pounds per ton × 0.45), which yields 497,700,000 kernel weight pounds. At $0.0465 per pound, the new assessment rate should generate $23,143,050 in assessment income, which is equal to estimated expenses.

CAT: So the Walnut Board needs to raise the assessment to generate more dollars in order to maintain the aggressive domestic marketing program the Board did last year?

Balint: We raised the assessment rate to satisfy the programs the Board wanted us to execute. Last marketing year, we did the first substantial marketing campaign in the domestic market. This year, we are repeating the program. The advertising is nearly identical; however, we did have a few new executions for print. Some of the details on the PR side are different. But essentially, it’s the same plan and the same budget.

california-walnut-boardTo run that program last year, we were able to draw on reserve funds in addition to the assessment. This year, we did not want to draw on those reserve funds because we would have brought the reserve funds down to a point we were uncomfortable with. So, the assessment rate went up so we could run the same level of support without touching the reserve.

CAT: Like last year, will this year be a multi-million dollar campaign to really get walnuts on the radar screen for all U.S. consumers?

Balint: Yes. We know that about 22% of U.S. households buy walnuts. We’re trying to increase that amount. Actually, we’re trying to increase two things: the number of households that buy walnuts and the usage of walnuts by people who were previously designated as what we call “light users.” We’re trying to get a bigger slice of the pie.

In the long term, getting new users is critically important. The point we’re trying to make is, no one buys things basically just for price. If they’re already using walnuts, we hope they will buy more if the price is lower.

CAT: And for the people who are not buying walnuts?

Balint: Long term, getting people who are not using walnuts to start using them is the way for our industry to get stronger. Of the people who buy walnuts, about 87% buy them because they know walnuts are healthy. That’s their primary motivation.

CAT: You have spun out beautiful ads about how walnuts can enhance salads and enhance meals.

Balint: The print campaign this season is just a slightly different execution of last season’s campaign, but it is the same strategy.

CAT: And television can be very expensive?

Balint: It is, and it forces us to make choices; whereas, in print we have an array of print ads that cover an array of uses: salads, vegetable side dishes, entrees, appetizers, snacking out-of-hand. The theory is, if you have two or three pounds of walnuts in your pantry and you use them for a salad, you will wind up snacking on them.

CAT: How about digital ads on websites such as the Food Network?

Balint: When you look at the cost of digital, it is cheaper than television, for sure.

CAT: Do you know the value of different mediums?

Balint: In my opinion, what we really do not know is the value of an impression in digital versus the value of an impression in print magazines versus the value of an impression in television. No one has ever quantified that.

CAT: Really?

Balint: Frankly, I don’t think anybody wants to quantify it. It would be very difficult to get everyone to agree.

CAT: But digital seems to be getting more eyes than television.

Balint: The digital people certainly know that they are getting a bigger and bigger slice of the pie.

CAT: Is the consumption of walnuts in the U.S. still flat?

Balint: It has been. We have not seen the latest figures, but [consumption] has been flat probably for 10 years. If you look at the nut category this past year, the usage of nuts was generally down, but we saw a slight increase in walnuts.

We are pleased about that. We know nuts are healthy in general. Walnuts are more of an ingredient nut than our friends in the almond industry and the pistachio industry. They’re more of a snacking nut. We’re more of an ingredient nut.

CAT: Back to the Board’s proposed assessment increase; is it on the Federal Register and people can go there and make comments?

Balint: Yes, that’s correct, and the marketing order gives the Walnut Board the right to do these things. And, similar to the Almond Board’s recent proposed assessment increase, it doesn’t have to go to a referendum.

2016-10-02T21:48:42-07:00September 29th, 2016|

Nut Harvest Safety Highlights

Nut Harvest Safety Seminar Highlights Risk Areas of Harvest Season

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Nut harvest safety was the topic of a recent seminar, sponsored by AgSafe and the Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA), at the Fresno Farm Bureau office.

Nut_Harvest_Safety_2

Use of safety lighting for almond nut harvest

When almond harvest commences in a few months from now, safety in the field is very important as crews move out to eight hundred thousand acres of bearing orchards. California Ag Today produced a video on this meeting.

Click here to watch video.

Carlos Mendez, almond harvest manager for Madera-based AgriLand Farming, which produces almonds, pistachios, walnuts, grapes, and citrus, said, “Safety is number one for us. If you look at any of our vehicles, we have a lot of lights to help break through the dust. It looks like a Christmas tree, which includes my truck. We also use safety vests and strobe lights on everything,” he noted.

Nut_Harvest_Safety bank-out wagon

Bank-out wagon during almond nut harvest.

Mendez said safety is part of the AgriLand Farming culture. “We don’t have a safety officer or coordinator because we are all in charge of safety. All of us wear that ‘safety hat,’” Mendez said.

And when Mendez talks about all the necessary increased lighting, he is also trying to prevent harvest workers from being run over by harvest vehicles or getting their hands caught in chain drives or augers.

nut harvest safety

Bank-out wagon during almond nut harvest

“We’re moving, at any given time, sixty pieces of equipment. Everyone must be aware of harvesters backing up to bank-out wagons in the orchard to transfer the crop, as well as bank-out wagons unloading their the crop at elevators into transport trucks,” Mendez said.

“All workers need to be so constantly careful, even to preventing falling off equipment,” said Mendez.

__________________________

AgSafe is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to providing employers and employees in the agricultural industry with education and resources to prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities.  Our vision is to be a one-stop resource providing safety solutions for the agricultural industry.

Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) was formed in 2009 to answer the industry’s call for representation and expertise in critical compliance areas, such as air pollution, food safety and safety services, a new agricultural organization has been formed. This organization shares staff and office with the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations. WAPA represents the tree nut industry including almond hullers and processors, pistachio, pecan and walnut processors, on regulatory and legislative issues. In addition, the Association performs critical consultative services for its members on issues such as air pollution permits, lockout/tagout and safety plans, Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans and many other services.

 

2016-06-16T15:23:40-07:00June 16th, 2016|

Tree Nut Theft Alert

Roger Isom Warns: Take Precautions to Thwart Tree Nut Theft

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

 

Roger A. IsomWestern Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) president and CEO, told CalAgToday, “Tree nut theft is still a serious issue this year, as it was last year. Folks behind the thefts have not been caught. We’ve had over 30 thefts in the last 6 months.”

There is good news. “We’ve had numerous attempts thwarted,” Isom commented, “because folks have started to implement some of the procedures that we talked about at our emergency Tree Nut Cargo Theft Summit back in December.” Following the successful Summit, nut theft legislation sponsored by the WAPA passed out of the Assembly Agriculture Committee unanimously. According to WAPA, AB 2805 (Olsen) would form a statewide California Agriculture Cargo Theft Crime Prevention Task Force with combined law enforcement services and support activities to fight agricultural cargo theft. Among the loads of tree nuts stolen was a load of almonds reportedly stolen during the Summit.”

Roger Isom, president and CEO, Western Processors Association

Roger Isom, president and CEO, Western Processors Association (source: LinkedIn)

Isom explained, “We brought experts in cargo theft from across the country to the training seminar held in mid-April in Modesto to make sure all members understood: What has happened? How are the thefts occurring? What have we learned from those thefts and the investigations? What can people do to prevent these thefts from happening at their locations?”

“What we’ve learned, for sure,” he explained, “is that if you do not implement the procedures, you will be hit. Following the December meeting, we’ve had companies hit by cargo theft; the [companies] that implemented the practices we talked about prevented thefts from occurring; those that did not have lost truckloads of tree nuts.”

Isom understands it is time consuming to follow the recommendations, and there is some cost associated with it. “You have to take the time to take pictures of the drivers,” he elaborated. “You have to fingerprint the drivers. You’ve got to make calls. You’ve got to make sure these truckloads of shipments have been placed at least 24 hours in advance. If there are driver changes, you cannot allow that. It takes some serious steps to prevent [theft].”

“We had one a few weeks ago,” Isom explained, “where they switched drivers and trucks—literally the day of [transport]. It ended up being OK, but the alarms went off. The next time it could be an actual fictitious pickup.”

Tracking a stolen truckload is difficult. Isom reported, “Typically they do get the license plate number. Prior to these thefts, they might have just asked the driver for the license plate number and taken his word for it. Maybe they would go to the extent of taking a picture of [the plate], but what if it is what they call a “cold plate”, a stolen plate?”

“In at least one of the thefts,” said Isom, “the license plates had been switched. The thieves literally stole somebody’s license plates off a pickup truck and put them on the truckload of nuts. Had someone in charge been educated on license plate numbers—just normal [information]—they may have easily discovered the plates were not valid; they were not applicable for a truck-tractor-trailer setup.

Isom remarked the thieves are clever. “Most occur on a Friday or just prior to a holiday,” he stated. “In some cases, the theft might not be discovered for 3 or 4 days. The damage depends on the value of the nuts at the time,” Isom said, “and are we talking about finished product? Has it been processed? Seasoned? But you’re talking a stolen value of at least $100k-$150k. That’s what makes it so attractive and why cargo theft is on the increase across the country.”

Furthermore, Isom stated, “We’ve been told by law enforcement that Los Angeles (LA) is now the highest cargo theft location in the world. It has increased dramatically in the last couple of years, and more so this past year. We did not see theft in tree nuts until recently. We had the occasional theft out-in-the-field or maybe at the huller—someone picks up a couple of trailers and tries to get rid of them—but not to this level, not this brazen, and not with finished product.

Cargo Theft Interdiction Program (CTIP) with the California Highway Patrol

Cargo Theft Interdiction Program (CTIP) with the California Highway Patrol

“Now it’s over 30 loads!” he said. “We’ve had almonds taken from 4 or 5 different locations; we’ve had walnuts; we’ve had pistachios from several different locations; and we’ve had cashews stolen. We didn’t even know there were cashews here in California, but they are imported and processed here in Fresno, and there have been multiple loads stolen.”

“Nobody is immune to it,” Isom commented. “Tree nuts are the preferred product right now compared to other cargo thefts—TVs, tires, or tablets. Tree nuts have no serial numbers; thieves can turn and burn them faster than you-know-what. The other attractive part about the tree nuts is you can also store them for while. You can hit the farmers’ markets just a little bit at a time. It’s easy.”

“This is not the common criminal,” Isom surmised. “This is something sophisticated. Look how they have hacked into the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) database to get this information. Look how shipping papers have been modified; they put their phone numbers on them, and it looks legitimate. We’ve had trucking companies’ identities stolen. They’re using their forms, their information, their drivers’ names, but it is somebody else doing this.”

“And trust me,” Isom added; “it’s not the guys just right along California State Highway 99 (‘the 99’), they’ll go to the smallest processor off the beaten path. They fool people with what looks like very legitimate paperwork. This isn’t something that somebody took a sharpie to; these look like legitimate shipping papers.”

Isom and WAPA are engaged with “all the law enforcement, not just the local county sheriffs, including the Cargo Theft Interdiction Program (CTIP) with the California Highway Patrol. We’ve got the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) involved now. There are a lot of people on it, but, because of the value, it’s so attractive that we’ve got to make everybody is aware of this.”

“This is a new type of theft facing our industry,” warned Isom, ” and you have to do your due diligence. It takes somebody taking some time, and it is going to slow down shipments. There’s no doubt about it; you have to be prepared and aware.”

Through the use of fictitious pickup, even if the drivers are caught, Isom explained it’s not a felony anymore due to changes in California laws. “If you hold the driver at gunpoint,” he said, “and you basically carjack the truck; that’s a felony. So they’re basically saying that legally, the processor or handler voluntarily gave up the load. So it is not a felony; it’s a misdemeanor. So guys aren’t doing any state prison time. They’re doing a couple of weeks in county jail. With all the overcrowding, Boom, they’re gone; let them go.”

“Quite frankly,” Isom relayed, “the majority of the trucks end up in LA, so that’s where law enforcement finds the trucks. And that’s where they say the theft ‘happened.’ You can’t get the LA district attorney to prosecute these cases because they are too busy with murderers, rapists, and other—what they consider more serious—crimes than your voluntarily giving up a load, in their opinion. Even though some of these loads are worth half a million dollars.”

“But now we have the FBI involved,” Isom affirmed. “Thieves are now stealing on interstate highways; these are now federal crimes. There is certainly more teeth in federal law. When we catch these guys, they’ll be in federal prison, doing some serious time.”

(Featured Photo Source: USDA-NRCS)

2016-05-31T19:24:05-07:00April 26th, 2016|

Record Walnut Crop

New Record Walnut Crop:  575,000 Tons

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

 

In a recent interview with Dennis Balint, executive director and ceo of the California Walnut Board, Balint discussed the Board’s promotion efforts on what has become another record walnut crop, grown on approximately 300,000 acres in the state.

California Ag Today (CAT): Despite the drought, the valiant walnut growers of California have produced yet another record crop of 575,000 tons, up one percent from 2014’s crop, and crop quality is reported to be excellent. How does that relate to overall supply?

Balint: This increase represents 5,000 additional bearing acres. Last year, the world availability was up about 140,000 tons higher than the previous year. We knew that we could absorb incremental production of 20,000 or 30,000 tons a year; however, 140,000 tons was a bit of a surprise. Couple that with the fact that China’s economy isn’t today what it was a couple of years ago. That has hurt us a bit.Walnut trees

So at any rate, that means we are going to have a record total of availability this year, and I think we are going to see prices moderate. Now, the really good news is the industry had some foresight in approving a huge budget to market the product, so we’ll be having a serious marketing campaign in the 2015-2016-crop year.

CAT: Walnut consuming promotions?

Balint: The board will continue promoting walnuts with print and television campaigns, as well as public relations efforts through Edelman Public Relations. That will continue on two fronts; one is consumer appeal, like recipes, and just raising overall awareness regarding the versatility of walnuts; but second and most importantly, Edelman is in charged with promoting health. Health continues to be a very important card in promoting our product to consumers and health professionals as well.

CAT: It is always good that people think of health when they think of walnuts!

Balint: Yeah they do. It is amazing how that number has changed over the years.

CAT: Is eating more, better?

Balint: You know we have a daily range. When we do studies, researchers will always look at the composition of the product and, depending on what they are expecting, they will adjust accordingly. So we have studies that are based on 1 ounce, 1.5 ounces, and 2 ounces daily. So it really depends on the end points they choose to look at.

We try to never talk about compounds because we like to talk about the whole walnut, but occasionally researchers who are deconstructionists suspect a particular compound. Then we have to analyze it down to the nitty-gritty so somebody can put it in a pill. When that happens on occasion, researchers say, “Well, we really need to feed 2 ounces.” And in some cases, 2 ounces in the short-term works very well. In the long-term, being practical, 1 to 1.5 ounces is good.

CAT: Please go back to the advertising budget. Is it mainly domestic?

Balint: It is all domestic. The export program will remain intact—no changes there. We will still have good programs in a number of countries overseas, but all of the increased production is going into the domestic market.

CAT: Do we need to increase per capita consumption to handle the oversupply issue?

Balint: That is a good question. What we need is the following: We estimate, and we don’t have hard numbers, not much more than one in five households is purchasing and using walnuts on a regular basis. So that leaves a lot of room for growth. Our campaign has been designed to appeal to light and non-users, and not just the core consumer who is already loving walnuts and buying them on a regular basis, to expand our user base.  We are doing so by presenting walnuts as an ingredient in salads, vegetable side dishes, entrees, and of course as a snack. As a matter-of-fact, we are waiting on copy testing results in the next week or two.

CAT: Good. And walnuts make everything better and that’s what it is all about, isn’t it?

Balint: Absolutely. Walnuts are a little added touch that makes food not only more interesting because of the color, texture, and taste, but also because it is healthful. All of our ads are going to have the heart check logo. I want to reemphasize health research will still capture a lot of media on its own. That will continue, ‘no reduction there.

CAT: Are the ads in food or fitness magazines primarily?

Balint: Food magazines, primarily. We have four executions of print ads and two television commercials. We are waiting for the test results for the ads. The copy testing we have done also includes what the experts call rapid eye movement. By observing people’s eyes, we’ll know when consumers like or don’t like a word or a phrase, or think something is plausible or implausible. We will also know where their glance goes, how long it stays there and where it goes next.

This will help us structure the commercial to eliminate some of those “down spots” and focus on things that capture their attention. We will be reaching 95% of adults between the ages of 25 and 54 with this campaign on average 26 times per person over a period of about five months.

CAT: Wow, you are running it on some big television programs?

We’ll be going after different segments. For example, we have scheduled morning television segments like “Live with Kelly & Michael,” “Rachael” with Rachael Rae, and pillar events. A pillar event might be a broadcast on E! Network such as “From the Red Carpet at the Academy Awards” or an event in the sporting world. But that is not a focus. We will also include standard shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and so on.

Television will be in ten key markets, and I don’t have the list in front of me. But we will also continue our aggressive social media program. We have a couple of new ideas that I think will capture people’s interest.California Walnut Commission logo

CAT: Tell us about the campaign with the wrapped truck that looks like a walnut.

Balint: We converted a food truck to look like a walnut by wrapping it with walnut texture and contoured the boxy truck into a rounded walnut shape. So when it is parked in downtown Manhattan or Washington D.C., the truck with those affixed contours makes quite a spectacle.

CAT: So what were you doing with that truck? Did you hand out information?

Balint: We made information available, facilitated games, hosted walnut cracking, and most importantly, served an ice cream sandwich made out of yogurt, walnuts and chocolate graham crackers. We had samples of walnuts as well.

CAT: What is your health research strategy? Are you working with key researchers to compare eating walnuts with not eating any nuts?

Balint: Our health research strategy depends on the target. Remember, walnuts are the only good food source of Omega-3; most nuts have no Omega-3. We like to test the whole walnut in a lot of our studies. Sometimes we will find an indication that one compound is more important than another; but we recently finished a study with 27 scientists for our annual meeting. They look at what we have done, what we are doing, and what we should do next. So it is not just guesswork, it is a carefully thought-out program that focuses on areas of greatest interest to scientists.

One thing I will tell you is one day before the meeting began, we had six key scientists come in for what we call a “brainstorming session.” We asked them to tell us how to make our program better: the way we run our health research program, the way we run the conference and so on. The unanimous opinion of the six in attendance was not to change a thing. They said basically the program is a model for what should happen in health research, because we don’t go into research with a preconceived notion. We don’t go in and say, “Researcher, please raise your hand and provide us with a positive result on this disease.” We follow the science.

CAT: What are your biggest markets abroad?

Balint: China of course is huge. But other very strong markets include Germany, Japan, Korea, Spain and Turkey. China slipped this past year, of course, and we are all scratching our heads because we hear a lot about China. But their economy is a little soft. They had a crackdown on the gray market, which hurt business a little bit because some of the product that goes into China finds its way there through either Hong Kong or Vietnam. So China’s utilization this year was down. It is too early to tell whether they will return or continue at the same pace they experienced in 2014-15. We just don’t know yet.

CAT: Are you promoting the health message in these foreign countries?

Balint: Yes, and it is a really interesting situation. In countries that have a tradition of walnut-use like China, only about 40% of our messaging is health-related because they have known it is healthy for a thousand years. Whereas, in Japan, when a big story breaks accompanied by some television coverage, our sales will spike like you can’t even believe. So, it differs by market.

Here in the U.S., it is very high, as in Germany and Spain. Turkey is building and India as well, but slowly. We have some issues there; India is a market in which they too grow lots of walnuts, but we are slowly but surely making some headway.

The Korean market opened in 1994, but it was 2001 before we had any meaningful number of shipments. You have to be patient with some of these markets to be able to dismantle some of the trade barriers.

CAT: Are there any markets in South America?

Balint: Years ago, in the 90’s, there was an effort in Brazil and Argentina. Now, Chile grows walnuts, Argentina grows some, Brazil still grows a few. The Mercosur* pact down there (a special trading pack between South American countries) is a problem because the Mercosur countries trade duty-free. So we are at a disadvantage. We’re contra-seasonal. Last, but not least, we have a tariff burden. So we tried it for a couple of years, but decided there were better places to invest.

CAT: Well, it’s interesting. We don’t see South America being a big market for almonds or pistachios yet either.

Balint: It’s true; they grow Brazil nuts and, as I said, walnuts. Chile, as a matter-of-fact, is increasing their plantings. As their plantings increase, their initial sales will remain within the South American continent. When they get into the summer, especially late summer, they will sell what they have left into markets like Korea, and if they can, France and Germany. They basically go into our markets and try to sell in advance of our crop.

CAT: How are California growers doing? They are going through another year of drought, and I’m sure you are worried….

Balint: Everyone is, and we are all waiting for the other shoe to drop. Here we are with another record crop, and we know the reason for that. It’s because five or six years ago, somebody planted more walnuts, and they are coming online now. It appears as though we are trying to grow more walnuts in the middle of the drought, though the fact of the matter is those trees went in the ground long before water scarcity became as bad as it currently is.

CAT: Exactly, Fresno County just released their numbers last month and broke a record 7 billion dollars. Kern County and Tulare County broke records as well. In terms of ag value, we are not taking such a hit, mainly due to high nut prices.

Balint: Even before I was in the commodity business, I used to work for a company in Massachusetts called William Underwood Company. They had B&M (Burnham & Morrill Company) Baked Beans, Underwood Deviled Ham and other meat spreads. That is where I learned about commodities.

We had an economist on staff to predict the prices of navy beans, fatback**, sugar, ham hocks, and chicken. I learned it was much easier for the chicken guy year to year; he would just have more chickens to count! The bean people could have more beans. What about the walnut people? If the trees weren’t in the ground, they were not going to get more walnuts.

________________________________

*Mercosur or Mercosul (Spanish: Mercado Común del Sur, Portuguese: Mercado Comum do Sul, Guarani: Ñemby Ñemuha, Southern Common Market) is a sub-regional bloc. Its full members are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Its associate countries are Chile, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador.

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

**Fatbackthe fat, usually salted, from the upper part of a side of pork

Source:  Dictionary.com

 

2016-05-31T19:27:06-07:00October 21st, 2015|

Record Crowd of Tree Nut Growers in Turlock

Big Crowd in Turlock for Tree Nut and Vine Expo

More than 800 growers and PCAs were at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds TODAY, to hear from many speakers, visit with hundreds of exhibitors, talk about tree nuts and grape vines, and enjoy breakfast and a barbeque Tri-Tip lunch.

“It was the 18th annual event and with a record crowd. All growers were upbeat following a good harvest and good nut prices. Also, both domestic and export sales are increasing,” said Patrick Cavanaugh, editor of Pacific Nut Producer magazine and co-host of the event.
tree nut growers
Exhibitors speak with tree nut growers about products and services
“We are pleased that both the nut and grape industry are doing well in California. All we really need is a lot of rainfall this winter,” said Dan Malcolm, publisher of Pacific Nut Producer as well as American Vineyard magazine, and co-host of the show.
Crowd gathers outside to look over equipment.

Speakers came from UC Davis, Stanislaus County Ag Commissioner’s office, UC Cooperative Extension, Almond Board of California, California Walnut Board, Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, and CalAgSafety.

“We appreciate the support of the event sponsors and the record number exhibitors,” said Cavanaugh.
Ryan Genzoli with Cal Ag Safety speaks. tree nut growers

Ryan Genzoli with Cal Ag Safety speaks.

Sponsors Included:
    • Agromillora
    • American Ag Credit
    • Big Tree Organics
    • California Walnut Board
    • Compass Minerals
    • Dave Wilson Nursery
    • Diamond Foods
    • Fresno State Viticulture and Enology Dept.
    • JKB Energy
    • Novozymes
    • Principal Financial Group
    • Yosemite Farm Credit
2021-05-12T11:06:02-07:00November 13th, 2013|
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