Big opportunities for walnuts in India
In anticipation of the Expo Nut, celebrated on Nov. 22 in Chile's Monticello Casino to gather the main players in the global walnut industry, local producers and associations gathered with Indian buyers, importers, and supermarket executives in Santiago, Chile to analyze the current status of the Indian walnut market.
Despite challenging growing conditions and production growth in China and the U.S., Chilean growers have enjoyed an explosive rise in production volumes in the last seven years, increasing exports by 258%.
After cherries, walnut is the second largest fruit tree planted in Chile, with 46,232 acres.
Globally, China is the world’s largest walnut producer, with a 50% share reaching nearly 1.4 million tons. Production volumes in the U.S. ascended to 750,000 tons in 2022, and in 2023-24 are expected to reach 760,000 tons out of California, according to the USDA’s crop estimate, making it the world’s second-largest producer.
Potential for increased consumption in India
India has one of the fastest-growing consumer populations in the world. The potential for consumption is huge, says Raju Bhatia, founder of California Agri Nuts Corporation, and NC ambassador for India since 2016, “Consumption of walnuts in India has the potential to grow by 50% every year, so producers should be worried about how they are going to supply this incredibly large market, because there are still millions of potential consumers that the walnut market has not reached yet.”
Sumit Saran, director of SS Associates compared the Indian market to an elephant. “It takes time to move, but when it starts running, then it's unstoppable.”
India is currently growing at around a 6% annual growth rate and is expected to maintain this throughout the next decade.
“Just in population, we are adding the equivalent of one Australia every year,” adds Saran.
According to Chilean growers, these numbers alone show the potential for pretty much any consumer-oriented industry in India.
One of the main reasons for the increase in consumption in the last few years is the trend towards healthier foods in India. Walnuts are considered very good for the heart and the brain, and this awareness led to higher consumption nationwide.
“People in India view food differently than in the Western culture, they do not see it as a tool to satiate hunger but to maintain the health of body and mind. In that sense, walnuts are well-positioned for a variety of factors. There was a very famous Guru in India who said that walnuts are food for the brain because they have the shape of a brain, and believe it or not that boosted consumption,” explains Pedro Monti, general manager of Chilenut.
During the meeting, Raju Bhatia insisted that growers and associations have to invest more money in promotion campaigns because 60% of walnuts arriving in India are being consumed only by 20 million people. To put this into perspective, India has a population of over 1.4 billion people.