Walnut Bargaining Association Optimistic About 2023 Crop Quality and Grower Pricing

Courtesy of the Walnut Bargaining Association

The Walnut Bargaining Association (WBA) has updated its minimum price recommendation to 70 cents per pound in-shell. The price is based on Jumbo/Large Chandlers of good quality.

“In September, our Board recommended handlers pay growers a minimum price of 60 cents per pound in-shell,” said Donald Norene, Chairman of the WBA. “On October 4, the USDA National Ag Statistics Service issued a revised estimate lowering expected volume down to 760,000 tons.

“Inventories from the 2022 crop are also significantly reduced, and as growers begin harvest throughout the state, they are reporting quality is vastly improved over the past two seasons. In fact, many are saying the 2023 quality may be one of the best in recent memory,” continued Norene. “For these reasons, we are encouraging handlers to structure grower returns to reflect a minimum price of 70 cents per pound and we urge walnut growers to demand this be the starting point for pricing of this year’s crop.”

The WBA is a grower-owned agricultural cooperative, which exists to help farmers receive a fair price for walnuts. Each year the WBA issues a minimum price recommendation based on current crop and economic conditions. The WBA Board met this week in Sacramento to revise its minimum price recommendation in an attempt to address the grower return crisis of the past two years which has already put many California walnut farmers out of business.

“The primary factor in USDA’s lower estimate for crop volume is the removal of a significant number of walnut orchards this past season,” said Norene who noted the California Walnut Commission has contracted with a firm called Land IQ to gather accurate data about walnut acreage currently in production.

According to California Walnut Commission CEO Robert Verloop, the latest information provided to USDA “does not take into consideration the acres that appear to be abandoned or stressed, which could lower the crop size further.”

Verloop noted that another acreage update from Land IQ will be available in early November, which will likely reflect even fewer producing acres and, potentially, even lower crop volume.

“It’s very important the entire industry work together to help walnut growers work their way back to profitable levels and that we stop more orchards from being pulled,” said Jonathan Field, Executive Director of the WBA.  “Most California walnut farmers need to receive at least 60 to 80 cents per pound in order to break even.”

Field noted the WBA plans to conduct a series of activities to help growers establish fair contracts with their handlers and that handlers provide greater transparency to their growers when it comes to pricing. Walnut growers will be hearing more about this effort soon.

“Walnut growers simply cannot survive on the prices paid during 2021 and 2022,” said Field. “Quality is a huge factor when it comes to the value of walnuts. We haven’t had great quality for the past few years, but this year we do. Sellers should be able to get more money for walnuts this year and farmers deserve to be paid accordingly.”

For more information about the Walnut Bargaining Association, please visit www.walnutbargainingassociation.com

2023-10-18T14:57:34-07:00October 18th, 2023|

2023 California Walnut Industry Crop Estimate Released

Courtesy of Blake Rhodes for Ketchum

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s (NASS) official walnut industry crop estimate provides the California walnut industry with crucial information to support an orderly sales process. Using scientific methodologies, USDA field staff counted, measured, weighed and evaluated thousands of walnuts from major growing regions in July and August for use in a statistical acreage model to establish the annual walnut crop estimate.

The 2023 California walnut production is forecast at 790,000 tons, up 5% from 2022’s production of 752,000 tons. The forecast is based on 385,000 bearing acres, down 4% from 2022’s estimated bearing acreage of 400,000.

“The California walnut industry has increased its focus on providing handlers and growers the most accurate crop information by accelerating the collection of various data points,” said Robert Verloop, CEO and Executive Director for the California Walnut Commission (CWC) and Board (CWB).

While official final shipment, inventory and close-out figures for the 2022 crop year will be released within the month, preliminary figures indicate last year’s crop is virtually sold out.

“Last year, we were facing a completely different scenario with 130,000 tons in inventory brought on by the lingering effects of the COVID-impacted global marketplace and a record heat wave last September that negatively impacted the entire crop, which led to lethargic sales and record-low grower returns,” added Verloop.

“With minimal carryover from the previous crop year and favorable weather throughout the growing season, we’re optimistic about the new crop year,” said Tim Sabado, CEO of Prima Noce, based in Linden, California. “The upcoming crop promises a return to the exceptional quality that defines California walnuts globally.

“Harvest will begin in September, and may extend into November due to the early season cooler temperatures,” added Sabado. “Our focus is on an aggressive harvest, picking the crop at its peak quality and freshness.”

Inshell walnut shipments for international destinations will start in October. In the U.S. and Canada, retail customers are currently placing orders and building sales plans for their traditionally large holiday promotions and their health-focused kernel campaigns for January and February.

2023-09-07T09:01:42-07:00September 7th, 2023|

California Walnuts Raises Awareness of the Power of Omega-3 ALA in March

By California Walnut Commission

California Walnuts is raising awareness of the health benefits associated with omega-3 alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), while spotlighting the many ways that the versatility of walnuts can help increase the intake of omega-3 in the diet. Walnuts are the only tree nut that provide an excellent source of the plant-based omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (2.5g/oz.), which research indicates may play a role in heart health, brain health and healthy aging.

In fact, a 2022 study published in Advances in Nutritionfound that given the accumulating evidence on omega-3 ALA and cardiovascular-related outcomes, food sources high in ALA should be included as part of a heart-healthy dietary pattern.

While research continues to reinforce the many health benefits of walnuts, they are also an easy food to incorporate in the everyday diet, whether as an on-the-go snack or as part of a meal. They are delicious on their own, but also add great texture to salads, yogurt or baked goods. Walnuts can be a key ingredient in rich, satisfying spreads such as hummus, muhammara, pesto or walnut butter. Many consumers are not aware that walnuts also shine as a plant-based, center-of-the-plate ingredient.

Finely chopped or ground walnuts blended with legumes or mushrooms can be used as a plant-based alternative to ground beef or poultry in a variety of global dishes, ranging from meatballs to Mexican Walnut “Chorizo” Burritos to Indian Spiced Walnut Crumbles. This ground walnut meat can also be frozen for easy, make-ahead meals that offer a simple way to meet the recommended omega-3 intake.

“To celebrate the power of omega-3, we are kicked off our fourth annual global month-long campaign on March 1, to highlight that walnuts are an incredibly functional and versatile food that makes omega-3 consumption tasty and easy for people of all ages,” shares Robert Verloop, CEO of the California Walnut Commission. “Walnuts are the only nut and one of just a few foods that provide a rich source of plant-based omega-3. We want to inspire people to reap the health benefits of those omega-3s by enjoying walnuts in their daily snacks and meals. And, to keep your walnuts fresh at home, be sure to store them in the fridge or freezer!”

California Walnuts’ Power of 3 campaign features recipes, videos, social media content, digital advertising, instore promotions and more to inspire people around the world to enjoy the flavor, texture and nutritional benefits that walnuts bring to their lives. For more information about the benefits of California walnuts along with new global plant-forward recipe inspiration, visit walnuts.org/power-of-3/ and be sure to share your own walnut culinary creations on social using the hashtag: #PowerOfOmega3.


2023-03-02T09:11:25-08:00March 2nd, 2023|

Robert Verloop Named Executive Director and CEO for the California Walnut Board and California Walnut Commission

By The California Walnut Board

The California Walnut Board (CWB) and the California Walnut Commission (CWC) announced that Robert Verloop has been named executive director and chief executive officer, effective July 11, 2022.  The CWB and CWC represent over 4,500 California walnut growers and nearly 90 handlers, producing over 1.4 billion pounds of walnuts in 2021 that ship to more than 50 countries around the world.

“We are excited to bring onboard an experienced strategic leader such as Robert, his background will well serve the California walnut industry. He has the unique background of leadership roles as a grower/shipper of highly perishable produce and in commodity organizations. Robert understands the challenge to ‘move the crop.’  In addition, he has extensive knowledge and creativity as a marketer working in complex domestic and international markets,” said Bill Tos, the California Walnut Board’s Executive Committee Chairperson.

Mr. Verloop recently held the position of COO for Coastline Family Farms, a family-owned vegetable grower/shipper.  Previously, he held executive/ leadership roles with Naturipe Farms/Naturipe Brands, Sunkist Growers Inc., and the California Avocado Commission.  In those capacities, Robert worked in such areas as marketing and sales promotions in retail, foodservice and ingredient channels in domestic and global markets; issues management; strategic planning; and government relations, working with various state and federal agencies, including USDA, FAS/ATO, CDFA, and FDA.

“When he was a member of the then-Produce Marketing Association Board of Directors, Robert showed a true drive to help find and create solutions for the global produce and floral community. His focus on disciplined marketing and uncovering the implications in challenges and opportunities helped us immensely, and I expect the walnut industry will realize these same leadership benefits,” said International Fresh Produce Association CEO Cathy Burns.

“I am looking forward to working with the staff, the two Boards (CWB and CWC), and the growers and handlers that make up the California walnut industry.  Walnuts are highly versatile and nutritious, ideal for plant-based eating.  In collaboration with the growers and handlers we must respond to rapidly evolving market conditions with a sense of urgency and purpose and continue to build an ongoing dialogue with key customer segments in order to drive sales in all market segments,” added Verloop. “I am also keenly aware of the multi-generational nature of an industry dating back more than a century.  The new generations are inheriting a dynamic industry that continues to evolve through innovation, starting with new advances in orchard management practices, post-harvest management, and developing exciting new consumer products that showcase the versatility and delicious taste of nutritious California walnuts.”

The CWB and the CWC play a vital role in expanding walnut usage occasions and understanding walnuts’ health benefits, solving for production and post-harvest challenges, protecting the industry against burdensome regulations, and building demand for California walnuts globally.  Despite current supply-chain challenges, there is rising demand for walnuts given their versatility and wide range of studied health benefits.  Interest in plant-based eating around the globe is an opportunity for walnuts, which contain protein and fiber, and are the only nut that is an excellent source of essential plant-based omega-3 ALA.[1]

“We look forward to Robert and the CWB and CWC staff working in collaboration with the industry to address the near-term challenges in supply chain logistics, port congestion and rising costs.  At the same time, we will refresh and refocus our long-term strategies given the evolving marketplace and not waiver our focus on the mission of market development and increasing consumer demand globally for our future crops,” added Tos.

About the California Walnut Board

The California Walnut Board (CWB) was established in 1948 to represent the walnut growers and handlers of California. The CWB is funded by mandatory assessments of the handlers. The CWB is governed by a Federal Walnut Marketing Order. The CWB promotes usage of walnuts in the United States through publicity and educational programs. The CWB also provides funding for walnut production, food safety and post-harvest research.

About the California Walnut Commission 

The California Walnut Commission, established in 1987, is funded by mandatory assessments of the growers. The Commission is an agency of the State of California that works in concurrence with the Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The CWC is mainly involved in health research and export market development activities. For more industry information, health research and recipe ideas, visit www.walnuts.org. 

2022-07-18T08:15:02-07:00July 18th, 2022|
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