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  • Increased Walnut Assessment Rate Proposed

    Sep 16th, 2015

    In August, the Agricultural Marketing Service proposed an increased assessment rate for California walnuts.The proposed rule would implement a recommendation from the California Walnut Board to increase the assessment rate established for the 2015-2016 and subsequent marketing years from $0.0189 to $0.0379 per kernelweight pound of assessable walnuts.Dennis Balint, executive director of the California Walnut Board, says the walnut crop is growing, making the increase necessary.“We have reached the point where we believe that we have to communicate the benefits of walnuts to consumers to increase demand that will keep pace with growing crops, realizing that depending on the variety, it takes five or six years for production from a new orchard,” he says.Although the walnut crops is up less than 1% from a year ago, Balint says it’s important to stay ahead of demand, which builds slowly. “Waiting until you have a problem is not a good idea,” he says.

    Balint says the increase will allow for a heightened level of communication with consumers.“Consumers are interested in healthy foods. Walnuts are an extremely healthy food. We’ve got a huge database about walnuts and chronic illness – especially heart disease, but more recently things like cancer have been addressed,” Balint says. “Now, when we communicate this to consumers, it gives them a rational reason to buy.”But getting consumers to buy walnuts is just one piece of the puzzle. Another goal is to show people how to use them.“The new ad campaign is designed to show people how versatile walnuts are in a variety of dishes, from salads to entrees to vegetable sides,” Balint adds. “And that will, gradually, over time, bring new users into the marketplace and take people who are already using [walnuts] and perhaps increase their usage.”