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China: Worlds Largest Walnut Producer Turns to Exports

28.10.2022 07:00 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) According to the report of the USDA Tree Nuts: World Markets and Trade (October 2022), China is forecast to produce 1.4 million metric tons of walnuts in 2022/23, accounting for over half of world output. Within China, Xinjiang Province accounts for more than half of Chinas production followed by Yunnan, Shanxi, and Shaanxi Provinces. Output increased nearly 80 percent in the last decade due in part to a poverty-alleviation program that was implemented in mountainous and hilly areas, which encouraged farmers to invest in new plantings. However, new growers have struggled to implement modern crop management practices such as mechanization, irrigation, pruning, and fertilization. In contrast, most walnut orchards in Xinjiang Province have been planted in flat areas, making it feasible for growers to mechanize the harvest and keep labor costs low. Industry sources indicate that Xinjiang walnut varieties have a much higher kernel content than their counterparts in other walnut-producing countries.

In 2016/17, China was the worlds seventh-largest exporter with shipments of just 18,000 tons. By 2019/20, China became the second-largest exporter behind the United States with shipments of 144,000 tons and is forecast to remain in that position. This impressive growth has been driven by exports to new and neighboring markets Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan where competition is limited. Shipments have also risen to the worlds top markets European Union, Turkey, and

United Arab Emirates.

As the worlds largest walnut producer, China is well-positioned to continue expanding trade to border countries. However, it is less certain whether China continues to expand its market share in the worlds top markets European Union, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates because output is dominated by over 50 local walnut varieties characterized as having dark kernels and bitter taste. With an eye to the future, the China Chamber of Commerce (CNFA) is drafting industry standards to differentiate by grade to improve export quality and solidify its position in these markets.

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