Despite the catastrophic rains the balance for 2016 was positive
According to Andres Rodriguez, the CEO of the Chilean Walnut Commission and a member of the nut trade committee (a committee that also involves representatives of Chilenut), Chile expects its nut production to increase by 20% in 2017. According to conservative forecasts, production is expected to go from 75 thousand tons in 2016 to 90,000 tons in this period.Rodriguez said that this good news was backed up by an absence of frost in spring, except in some specific cases, and the suitable temperatures that allowed a good flowering, which together augur an auspicious harvest in the months of March and April.Industry figures are also promising for the long-term. In the next 5 years, production should double as the orchards that have been planted in recent years should start their full production. The estimated planted area for 2017 is 43,662 hectares, and only 60% of this area is in total productivity, according to the Chilean Walnut Commission.Shelled nut exports in 2016 amounted to US $93.4 million. Their main destinations were Turkey, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, nuts in shell exports amounted to US $137.7 million, and the most relevant importers were Brazil, Germany, and Italy.
Robustness after the catastrophe of 2016
Looking ahead, we can say that 2016 was a tremendously positive year for the Chilean walnut industry, independent of the catastrophic rains in April year.The sector achieved a greater opening of the Chinese market. India approved phosphine fumigation. The sector held an excellent annual conference with more than 500 attendees, and at the end of the year, the Chilean Walnut Commission, which brings together nut exporters, and Chilenut, which brings together producers of this fruit, achieved a Joint Operating Agreement.The year, however, had a rocky start. In April, there were bad weather fronts of an unprecedented magnitude; the situation became catastrophic because it was full harvest season. Producers had huge losses in volume and quality, which impacted the product's price."Those rains hit us hard. We lacked responsiveness, many producers didn't have the infrastructure to collect their fruit and dry it. We had the nuts in high humidity conditions and it took a long time to dry them, which clearly affect their quality," said Fernando Cabrera, the manager of Agricola Huertos del Valle.
Prospects in China and India
We were affected by the weather, but achieved interesting things in the two most populous countries: China and India.A container with Chilean nuts in shell arrived in China in May, for the first time ever. It was an initial business of US $ 200,000. "This is just the beginning for a giant market like China, where we expect to ship at least 10 times more product in 2017," said the export manager of the company, Rémi Decottignies.He also said that the Chinese were willing to pay premium prices for Chilean nuts, a product that can be used as snacks, roasted, in salads, or to make nut milk. "The Chinese middle class is consuming more of these kinds of products."Andrés Rodríguez, said that while they had access for shelled nuts since 2014, 95% of Chinese imports (from other countries) were of in shell nuts. That's why this agreement, which was achieved in January, was the most anticipated.
In August, after a long negotiation process, India authorized phosphine fumigation for Chilean nuts. Thus, the authorization replacing fumigation with methyl bromide was formalized. This will facilitate access to the Indian market.Nut imports in India increased in recent years, in 2015 the volume of in shell nut imports grew by 900% over the previous year. India has a market of 1.3 billion people and a strong culture of nut consumption, so the possibilities that this new scenario creates are auspicious for the nut industry, even more so when considering that the authorization for the use of phosphine was only granted to Chile.