Currently, the Chilean walnut harvest is on the verge of completion, so it is time to focus on the commercial aspect of one of Chile’s main nuts. That’s why Juan Esteban Rodríguez, the president of Chilenut, the Trade Association of Walnut Producers and Exporters of Chile, spoke with Portalfruticola.com.
Rodríguez mentioned that in this campaign, many companies have implemented new mechanisms for the shelling process to further improve shell cleanliness. “Because the last few years have been very favorable for the shell, and since last year, more shelling plants have incorporated roller systems that help achieve a cleaner shell. Essentially, the goal is to have the nuts with the least amount of debris, blemishes, and a cleaner appearance.”
After completing the harvest, they begin to manage the first shipments. In this regard, the president of Chilenut explains that the Serr variety is the one that initiates the season’s shipments, “there is always a higher demand for the Serr variety in the early part, especially from Morocco.”
The market of the year
The United Nations Population Fund stated that by mid-2023, India will reach a population of 1.4286 billion, surpassing China’s 1.4257 billion. These figures undoubtedly create significant attractiveness for exports to this market.
According to Rodríguez, the participation of Chilean walnuts in the Indian market must and should grow. “If we analyze sales, India is the main market, it is the market of the year. Last year, at the same time, everyone was talking about India buying between 30,000 to 35,000 tons, but it reached 27,000 tons. I believe we should surpass last year’s numbers and exceed 30,000 tons.”
An important point mentioned by Juan Esteban Rodríguez is that the Indian market is familiar with walnuts as it is a product that is locally produced, mainly in the northwest region, which is the Kashmir region. “Therefore, the major consumer centers are located in Delhi and Mumbai. We see potential for growth among customers in more distant areas.”
He highlighted that Chilean walnuts are preferred by the Indian consumer due to their attributes of quality, color, flavor, and kernel filling. “We are capable of offering extra light walnuts, while California walnuts are light. Essentially, India likes high-quality white walnuts, and they found this product in Chile.”
An additional attribute that Chilean walnuts possess is their counter-season availability. Rodríguez explained that this allows them to provide an excellent quality product for the celebration of Diwali, “which takes place in late October-November. We can have fresh fruit available there, while California doesn’t have a way to supply fresh fruit. It’s a combination of factors that have benefited Chile’s situation in India.”
He added, “I would highlight the good quality, the professionalism of Chilean exporters, the effective marketing campaigns, and the opportunity to offer walnuts during peak demand. During Diwali, Indians gift fruits, and walnuts are one of the alternatives.”
Regarding the Indian market, the president of Chilenut mentioned a significant advantage for Chilean walnuts, which is related to the fact that 70% of the Indian population is vegetarian. As a result, there is a high consumption of nuts due to their nutritional characteristics.
More than just marketing
Currently, Chilenut continues to work on the development of marketing campaigns in India, and according to Rodríguez, “customers have recognized the positive impact that our efforts have had on walnut consumption in India. Therefore, we are reinforcing our campaign and exploring how we can further improve. Our main mission as an association is to continue collaborating in reducing India’s import tariffs.”
He also mentioned that a few weeks ago, they participated as Chilenut in the Asia International Food and Hospitality Fair – AAHAR 2023. “It was a great experience because although it is primarily focused on the local consumption market, the fair has been growing year by year. I believe it is an excellent opportunity to make our presence felt, and if we want to continue competing with California, we need to be there. Additionally, we made good contacts and managed to arrange meetings with the Chilean ambassador to India and the Secretary of Agriculture.”