California’s walnut growers and promoters are eager to expand their reach. During the California Walnut Board and Commission’s industry conference this week, executive director Michelle Connelly said retail sales remained strong during the past year but challenges remain. Other nuts are outspending the walnut industry by as much as 5 times (in the case of almonds).   

Jack Mariani of Mariani Nut Company said the walnut industry is adjusting to 100,000 more acres yielding 300,000 more pounds of product over the past 5 years, fueling the drive to find more market share in every possible sector.

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“We're competing for share of stomach just like any other consumer product,” Connelly said, and the goal is to make walnuts top-of-mind for consumers year-round, not just for holiday baking. The Commission is also looking toward export markets with hope they will open some additional sales opportunities as the Biden administration establishes its trade priorities and polices.

The Tuesday sessions also explored research on health benefits of walnuts and food safety. The meeting continues Wednesday and will include presentation of research findings about the return on investment the Walnut Board and Commission has seen from its work.

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