California growers produced the largest walnut harvest to date in the 2020-2021 crop year. The California Walnut Board (CWB) says the 785,000 tons is an increase of 20% over the 2019 crop.

In addition to funding research on the health benefits of walnuts, and promoting positive results, the California Walnut Commission worked alongside CWB to promote walnuts directly to consumers through retail campaigns. In a year-end summary of activities, the CWB says 34 retailers operating 10,400 locations saw an average sales boost of more than 20% during American Heart Month, with messaging about walnuts’ potential health benefits.  

The CWB also voted to suspend mandatory outbound inspections of walnuts “to mitigate market disruptions like labor shortages or shipping constraints,” both of which have been hurdles across industries this year. The move should increase export efficiency, says Michelle Connelly, CWB executive director. “The Federal Marketing Order rules governing inspections are obsolete as market and customer quality demands have since surpassed USDA grade standards,” she added in the CWB year-end summary.

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CWB has also funded research to advance production and processing including in the areas of pest management, food safety and product quality. Researchers at UC Davis released a new varietal aimed at bringing more desirable traits to market trees.

“Our research programs are key in providing growers and handlers the resources they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive space,” says Connelly.

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