When you think of California, walnuts should be one of the first things that springs to mind since 99 per cent of the total US production of walnuts comes from California and walnuts are the third leading export commodity from the state.
Exports are valued at just under $1.2 billion (wholesale) with the UK being the 3rd largest EU market, absorbing 1.6 per cent of the crop or 20,537,000 in-shell equivalent pounds (9,315 tonnes) in 2016. This is a record for the UK for California walnuts and has resulted in the UK becoming the 12th largest export market worldwide for California walnuts.
Now after a 20-year absence of any kind of UK marketing campaign, the California Walnut Commission is back with a bang with increasingly positive results. During the first five months of 2017 there were more California Walnuts imported into the UK than throughout the whole of 2016, an impressive year for the California walnut industry.
Peter Meadows, whose agency The Garden is the trade representative for California walnuts in the UK, explained how: “California walnuts are ticking all the right boxes for the UK trade which requires quality, value and consistency. UK consumers are becoming more and more aware of the health benefits of a plant based diet and the new Government eating guide is underpinning this trend”.
As UK consumers become increasingly health conscious, they are looking for foods which are healthy as well as tasty. There are many health benefits of walnuts and many consumers know that California walnuts contain plenty of the ‘good fats’ as they are high in unsaturated fat. One study published by the British Journal of Nutrition shows that walnuts could improve cognitive function as well.
The UK retail trade, driven by the multiples has reacted to this trend, stocking more and more snack-pack options and sizes as well as moving walnuts and all other nuts into the produce aisles encouraging consumers to make impulse purchases.
The popularity of California walnuts in the UK looks set to grow as consumer trends change. The popularity of walnuts generally and snacking behaviour becomes more about eating and snacking on the go and around busy schedules.
As outlined by research from the NPD Group, snacking occasions are predicted to replace routine meal occasions by 12 per cent by 2024. The increasing popularity in the nut category among consumers, retailers and the wider food industry is going to help drive this growth. Expect to see more California walnuts heading to UK shores over the next few years.
“California walnuts are ticking all the right boxes for the UK trade which requires quality, value and consistency”. Peter Meadows California Walnuts UK Trade Representative
CALIFORNIA WALNUTS COMMISSION