FOLSOM, CALIF. – This year’s walnut crop is expected to have a 19% yield increase over 2019, producing an estimated 780,000 short tons, according to projections released by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agriculture Statistics Service (NSAA).
“The industry has been expecting increases given continued growth in new acreage, more densely planted orchards, and heavier yielding varieties and has planned accordingly,” said Robert Driver, grower and California Walnut Board (CWB) board member.
The CWB believes there is tremendous growth opportunity in the US market to expand walnut sales in the retail channel. In response to the large crop, the board has dedicated a significant amount of resources to the domestic retail effort for the 2020/21 crop cycle.
“Efforts are underway to encourage greater support from food retailers through two national promotional campaigns, American Heart Month and a program focused on growing snacking usage,” said Jennifer Olmstead, marketing director of domestic public relations at the CWB. “While walnuts are not often thought of as a snack, our consumers are telling us otherwise with snacking becoming the top consumer use. Our goal is to make walnuts top-of-mind, not only for consumers, but for retailers and product manufacturers as well.”
To support expanded grocery presence, California Walnuts recently developed a new section on www.walnuts.org devoted specifically to information and materials for retailers, buyers, retail dietitians and others in the retail industry. The new online hub for retailers can be found at www.walnuts.org/retail and features shopper insights, promotion best practices, demo-friendly recipes, merchandising and point-of-sale materials.
The California Walnut Board anticipates that numerous national and regional food retailers will participate in this year’s American Heart Month (February) and snacking (July) programs, implementing promotional elements including instore display, circular and digital advertising as well as integration with retail RD programs. To take full advantage of the large crop, California Walnuts is supporting the two programs with a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign. Participating retailers will be able to take advantage of the added media and promotional support with retailer-tagged advertisements.