By 2022/23, China is estimated to harvest 1.4 million tonnes of walnuts, more than half of the global yield. Within China, Xinjiang province accounts for more than half of China’s production, followed by Yunnan, Shaanxi and Shaanxi provinces. Yields have increased by nearly 80% over the past decade, encouraging farmers to invest in new crops as part of a poverty reduction program in hilly and mountainous areas.
However, new farmers struggle to adopt modern cultivation methods such as mechanization, irrigation, pruning and fertilization. In contrast, most of the nut plantations in Xinjiang province are established in flat areas, allowing farmers to mechanize harvesting and keep labor costs low. Industry sources indicate that walnut varieties from Xinjiang have a higher nut content than those from other walnut-growing countries.
In 2016/17, China was the world’s 7th largest exporter with shipments of just under 18,000 tonnes. In 2019/20, China became the second largest exporter after the US with 144,000 tonnes of cargo and is expected to maintain that position. This impressive growth is due to exports to new and neighboring markets of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan where competition is less. Exports to major global markets such as the European Union, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have also increased.
As the world’s largest supplier of walnuts, China has excelled in expanding trade to neighboring countries. However, it is uncertain whether China will continue to expand its market share in the world’s top markets, the EU, Turkey and the UAE, as the harvest includes more than 50 local walnut varieties with dense nuts and a bitter taste. Looking to the future, the China Chamber of Commerce (CNFA) is working on sectoral standards for quality differentiation to improve export quality and strengthen its position in these markets.
The global almond crop is expected to decline by 10% to 1.5 million tonnes for 2022/23 as losses in the US and EU outweigh gains in other countries. Due to the increase in consumption, inventories are expected to fall by almost a third from last year’s record levels. Global exports are expected to rise nearly 10% to a record 1.1 million metric tons, driven by strong exports from the US and Australia to the EU and China.
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