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.

Table Grape Ads Feature Growers

California Table Grape Ads Feature Growers

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president
Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president

In an effort to shed a more positive light on agriculture and the growers who cultivate the food we eat, some advertising campaigns are focusing on bringing growers to the forefront. Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission, said this is exactly what the Commission’s campaign has been doing, and it has been receiving positive feedback. “The heart of the global campaign the Commission is fielding,” Nave said, “is very much about California table grapes and the heritage that growers bring to the table—the years of understanding the art and the science that go into growing table grapes.”

The California Table Grape Commission has generated commercials that focus on the family aspect of California’s grape growers and can be seen on Food Network television. “The heart of the campaign of table grape ads,” said Nave, “is basically branding California and the growers of California table grapes. We’ve portrayed our brand this way, in this particular campaign, for about eight years, and it really resonates. A National Consumer research study of the four advertising commercials we are currently fielding on the Food Network revealed very high marks.”

Nave explained the commercials help to create trust between consumers and growers by showing consumers the faces behind their food. “The two commercials that feature growers’ families interacting with one another, one set in a vineyard and another at home, resonated the highest with consumers,” Nave said. “Consumers have a huge amount of trust for growers. There is a hunger among consumers—not only in the U.S., but in other parts of the world as well—to understand who is growing the food they bring home to their own families. So showing consumers a California table grape ad that features the grower, the grower’s family, and their vineyard, really resonates. So the campaign is working well. I think it’s a campaign that we will be continuing.”



California Table Grape Commission

Grapes from California “Family Dinner” tv commercial

Grapes from California “Generations” tv commercial

Fig Fest This Saturday!

Fig Fest This Saturday at Fresno State

Chef Fabio Viviani
Bravo TV’s Chef Fabio Viviani

The big annual Fig Fest is coming up this Saturday, August 15, from 9 am till 1 pm at California State University Fresno.

“It’s going to be bigger and better than ever,” said Karla Stockli, chief executive officer with the California Fig Advisory Board in Fresno. “Guests will be able to savor gourmet fig-inspired recipes, extraordinary wines and craft beer from California’s best chefs, food purveyors, wineries and breweries.”

CA Fig Fest Logo“And there will be an exciting new addition this year; celebrity chef Favio Viviani will headline the event. Viviani is a restaurateur (5 in U.S.) and a New York Times best selling cookbook author (3 successful cookbooks). But, he is best known as the Fans’ favorite in Bravo TV’s Top Chef and the winner of Cutthroat Kitchen with the Food Network.” Viviani also sells his own wine collection and popular line of cookware.

“Viviani will be center stage at a chef culinary demonstration and he will also tape an episode of his new PBS series, Global Bites,” said Stockli. “He will be interacting with people and signing books. And he is very passionate about all things fig and fresh ingredients.”

Tickets are available. Go to California Fig Fest for more information.

Local California Table Grapes are Going Global

Harvesting California table grapes is going strong. Many different varieties are being picked, and boxed in the vineyard and sent to the cooler for market.CATableGrapes

“We’re harvesting in the San Joaquin Valley now, and just finishing up in the Coachella Valley,” said Kathleen Nave, President of the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission. “The grapes are moving quickly into the marketplace in the US, Canada and around the world.”

“Mother nature has been kind so far with respect to the quality and the weather.” said Nave.

California Table Grape Commission is implementing a Grapes From California marketing campaign to connect with consumers around the world, as well in the U.S., focusing on usage, or ways in which grapes are consumed, and health benefits.

“We have brand new television commercials airing on the Food Network,” said Nave, “and we have Food Network magazine ads in the U.S. and similar ads in other parts of the world,” she added.

Nave said that the state’s grape growers have been amazing, producing two record crops, back-to-back, and now maybe a third. “So in 2012, we crossed the 100 million-box mark for the first time, and in 2013 ,we took a very big, unexpected jump, to 117 million. Our estimate for 2014 is just slightly higher than last year’s estimate,” said Nave.

Fair food gets a TV show!

By: Nan Austin; The Modesto Bee

Some fairgoers came for the barbecue, washed down with beer floats. Others lined up for deep-fried, bacon-wrapped pickles, cheesecake on a stick or a dozen forms of fried potatoes.

But it’s lobster corn dogs, doughnut sandwiches, deep-fried frogs legs and a mega loaf of curly fries that will be the most memorable morsels of this year’s Stanislaus County Fair, thanks to a Food Network episode of “Carnival Eats” that filmed in Turlock.

“Vegas has its secrets. The fair has its calories. It’s the guilty place you go once a year,” said host Noah Cappe between takes Saturday. The show has crisscrossed the country since April, filming Cappe gamely learning to cook everything from gumbo in Louisiana to deep-fried rattlesnake in Oklahoma.

“I appear to be a slow learner. But I’m definitely getting comfortable around the friers,” Cappe said with a grin.

“It’s silly. The guy can barely slice an onion, but he loves to eat,” said show director Spencer Ramsay while his crew set up cameras at the Monster Grill.

“Setup takes a couple of hours,” he noted. “That’s always what takes the time.”

Outside, cameramen taped a black cloth hood around a window in front of the main cooking area to block reflections. One camera would be shooting there while two others stood inside with Ramsay to capture Cappe’s foray into monster corn dog and curly fries cooking. Each item is cooked at least twice, giving a variety of wide-angle and close-up views to be stitched together later.

“It’s a huge process,” said producer Topher McFarlane. The Monster Grill trailer, which has a second trailer attached with walk-in refrigerator and office space, is one of the larger venues they’ve filmed, he noted. Filming inside tents and tiny booths each take their own engineering for lighting, sound and camera angles.

During filming, Cappe’s slim, 6-foot-3-inch frame swiveled expertly to stay in the photo frame as owner Tom Stroud maneuvered bulky packages and oversize equipment in the small space. The booth can run through 14 tons of potatoes in one fair, Stroud said.

Stroud’s 18-inch corn dogs and 5-pound serving of curly fries, both $8 items, were the menu for his segment. It takes custom-built, extra-deep deep-fry bins to cook both. The corn dogs take custom-cut sticks because of their weight, Stroud said. Some people share the mega meal, others dive in alone, he said.

“You get people trying to outdo each other. It’s really comical,” he said.

On Saturday the crew also filmed Cappe making lobster corn dogs that sell for $10 at Sharky’s Fish Fry, owned by two generations of Delahoydes. Phillip Delahoyde said his dad invented the batter-fried lobster sausages and lobster fries to be featured on the show. Other quirky offerings include deep-fried avocado and, at another booth, a chicken sandwich made with raspberry-jelly-filled Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

“If we had to think about calories, that would be scary,” Delahoyde said with a laugh.

Sacramento’s Cal Expo and the Stanislaus fair will be the California contributions for the first season of “Carnival Eats,” due to start mid-August on the Cooking Channel and Great American Country in the United States, and the Food Network in Canada. The show will mix and match locations, making Turlock’s air date a toss-up right now, Ramsay said.

The fair has a week still to run, giving fairgoers a chance to taste the real thing and dozens of other only-at-the-fair foods.

At the Knights of Columbus booth, volunteers in red T-shirts that say “Keep Calm and Eat Linguica” will be fundraising for scholarships and extras for Sacred Heart School. After more than 60 years of selling linguica sandwiches, they’ve added a linguica corn dog, french fries and sweet potato fries this year, said volunteer Kevin Crivelli.

Rotary’s beer booth has $8 beer floats this year, said volunteer Don Gonsalves. One pairs a dark Guinness with chocolate and another adds orange cream soda to Blue Moon beer. Both come with ice cream and whipped cream.

“We’ve had people try it that don’t drink beer and love it,” Gonsalves said.

Doughnuts are big sellers throughout the fair, even showing up as stuffed toys winnable at games along the midway. Castle Mini-Donuts offers a doughnut sundae, eight doughnuts topped with whipped cream, chocolate or caramel sauce and a cherry on top, said worker Jackie Barrera.

Fried bread has been dubbed “elephant ears” at one booth offering a number of toppings. An Indian Fry Bread booth has s’mores bread, a fry bread dribbled with melted marshmallows and chocolate sauce.

The classic cinnamon rolls, a fair staple for 37 years, have added a cinnamon roll sundae – a few more irresistible fair calories.

TV Campaign for ‘Grapes from California’ Kicks Off on Food Network

A new television campaign for ‘Grapes from California’ launched in June on the Food Network.

“These commercials showcase the natural beauty, easy versatility and great taste of California grapes while communicating the value of sharing life’s special moments with family and friends, and the care that growers put into growing,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission.

One of the two new commercials has a grower theme and the other has a dinner party theme. Watch them here: www.grapesfromcalifornia.com.

These 30-second commercials, the first two of a planned series of six, are seen during shows like, “Trisha Yearwood’s Southern Kitchen,” “Sandra’s Money Saving Meals,” “Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen,” and “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.”

The Grapes from California commercials will run through December and and will be used in future seasons.