Almonds and Walnuts Annual Report

An Expert's View about Tree and Bush Fruits and Nuts in Chile

Posted on: 29 Sep 2012

Almond and walnut production and exports are expected to increase this year mainly due to favorable weather conditions and new planted areas coming into production.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Required Report - public distribution Date: 9/14/2012 GAIN Report Number: CI1226 Chile Tree Nuts Annual Almonds and Walnuts Annual Report Approved By: Rachel Bickford, Agricultural Attaché Prepared By: Luis Hennicke, Agricultural Specialist Report Highlights: Almond and walnut production and exports are expected to increase this year mainly due to favorable weather conditions and new planted areas coming into production. Executive Summary: Chile’s walnut and almond production and exports for MY2012/13 are expected to increase over the previous year as planted area keeps expanding and new orchards are coming into production. For the outer years, output should continue to expand as a result of improved technologies, replacement of uprooted orchards with improved varieties and a significant increase in planted area to tree nuts. Commodities: Walnuts, Inshell Basis Production: Walnut production has been expanding over the last few years as a result of a significant expansion in replacing old, low production orchards that are fill with trees cultivated from seeds, with new crafted varieties. Additionally, an increasing number of producers have adopted improved technologies like modern pruning techniques and drip irrigation. An increasing use of a chemical called “retain” which prevents the blooms from aborting due to an excess of pollen, has eliminated the alternate bearing effect in walnut production. As a result, we can expect that walnut output will continue to increase with little ups and downs due to an expansion of the new planted area which is coming into production. Although it is too early for a good walnut output prediction, for 2012/13 the industry expects total production to be at the level of 46,000 metric tons, a 14 percent expansion. Weather during last winter has been favorable for a good production but many producing areas could be affected by drought. During this winter rain and snow fall has been below normal and in some areas producers report very dry conditions already and not much rain can be expected during the coming spring. These factors could have a negative effect on the coming walnut harvest. Walnuts are planted from the Third Region (Copiapo) down to the Ninth Region (Temuco), with over 90 percent of the crop planted in the central areas, specifically Region Five (San Felipe-Los Andes), the Metropolitan Region (Santiago) and Region Six (Rancagua). Region IV (Ovalle area) has seen the biggest expansions in area planted during the last few years. Total planted area has doubled during the last 5 years, reaching a total of almost 30,000 hectares. The two main factors for the significant increase in planted area during the last 3 to 5 years has been a continuous deterioration in the profitability of alternative fruit crops and the relatively good prices and economic returns obtained by walnut producers. An industry source indicated that total planted area of walnuts will keep increasing in the coming years mainly due to the labor shortage which is affecting the whole fruit production sector in Chile, walnut production can be mechanized and a large number of producers are reportedly switching to walnuts after their table grape orchards finish their production cycle and need to be replanted. Inputs All commercial walnut orchards are planted on irrigated land. However, until now only an estimated 60 percent of the planted area has modern irrigation systems. As a result, when there is not enough water supplied from wells, rivers and streams flowing from the Andes Mountains, water availability becomes an important factor limiting production, mainly in Regions V and VI. The average orchard size is 10 to 15 hectares-- double the size of orchards in France and half the size of orchards in the U.S. Although a large percentage of Chilean walnut trees in production originate from seeds, budding and grafting of new and improved varieties like Serr and Chandler has become popular in recent years. Industry sources report that there is still an estimated 30 percent of the total planted area that originated from seeds, but this is declining fast as producers have been replacing these orchards during the last few years. Increasing labor costs are an important factor affecting walnut production and processing. Chile has a competitive quality advantage in shelled walnuts, since almost all shelled walnuts are hand-cracked. Although the premium Chile obtains from this quality advantage has thus far continued to encourage hand-shelling; increased labor costs may mean that Chile could lose this advantage in coming years. In the case of walnut production, labor represents 70 % of total costs. As reported by some producers, production costs for walnuts are estimated to be between US$2,300 and US$2,500. Consumption: As with most other Chilean fruits, domestic walnut consumption is a residual of the export market. If international prices are low, exports fall off and domestic consumption increases as the larger supply drives domestic prices down. However, domestic demand does not drive consumption or determine market prices. Trade: Walnut exports reached another record volume in 2011/2012, an increase of over 35 percent in volume and a 45 percent in value when compared to the previous year for in-shell walnuts. The most important market is Turkey, followed by the UA Emirates, Italy and Brazil. For shelled walnuts exports expanded 6 percent in volume and 19.5 percent in value. The most important destinations are Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. The EU countries lead by Italy, Spain, Turkey and Germany are Chile’s main export market for walnuts, they accounts for more than 60% of total exports. Post predicts that as production continues to expand in the coming years total exports will expand as well. Varying amounts of shelled walnuts are being imported by the local confectionary industry. Stocks: There is no trade or official statistics available on Chile’s average stocks. However, exporters normally try not to carry over stocks. Policy: There are no specific Government policies regulating or benefiting tree nut production in Chile. The general import duty on walnuts is 6 percent except for countries with which Chile has signed trade agreements. As a result of the US-Chile Free Trade Agreement trade of walnuts between both countries enjoy a zero duty. Production, Supply and Demand Data Statistics: Walnuts, Inshell Basis Chile 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013 Market Year Begin: Mar 2011 Market Year Begin: Mar 2012 Market Year Begin: Mar 2013 USDA Official New Post USDA Official New Post USDA Official New Post Area Planted 0 25,000 0 28,000 29,000 Area Harvested 0 18,750 0 21,000 22,300 Bearing Trees 0 3,450 0 3,864 4,103 Non-Bearing Trees 0 1,150 0 1,288 1,233 Total Trees 0 4,600 0 5,152 5,336 Beginning Stocks 2,100 2,100 500 1,060 920 Production 40,000 38,500 46,000 40,500 46,000 Imports 150 77 100 360 200 Total Supply 42,250 40,677 46,600 41,920 47,120 Exports 38,100 35,617 42,000 37,000 42,000 Domestic Consumption 3,650 4,000 3,900 4,000 4,200 Ending Stocks 500 1,060 700 920 920 Total Distribution 42,250 40,677 46,600 41,920 47,120 HA, 1000 TREES, MT Export Trade Matrix Country Chile Commodity Walnuts, In shell Basis Exports for: 2010 2011 Time Period Jan-Dec Units: M.T. Units: Volume Value Volume Value U.S. 95 280 U.S. 24 77 Others Others Turkey 7,370 33,751 Turkey 10,029 43,157 Brazil 7,190 37,466 Brazil 6,512 36,024 Italy 3,843 19,801 Italy 3,831 21,280 Germany 2,525 15,212 UA Emirates 3,225 16,724 Spain 1,491 8,697 Germany 3,091 20,000 Netherlands 1,061 6,081 Spain 1,819 10,589 Portugal 1,025 6,329 Switzerland 991 6,843 Switzerland 895 5,902 Russia 947 6,544 Argentina 783 3,764 Netherlands 870 5,485 UA Emirates 523 3,084 Portugal 846 5,238 Total for Others 26,704 32,161 Others not Listed 2,792 3,432 Grand Total 29,591 159,701 35,617 200,728 Commodities: Almonds, Shelled Basis Production: Unfavorable weather during the winter of CY 2011 did not affect total output of almonds as previously predicted and almond production expanded in 2011/2012. The industry expects almond production in 2012/2013 to expand again as weather during last winter has been favorable for a good production. Since some planted areas could be affected by a drought, post is considering only a moderate expansion in our PS&D. For the outer years total almond production is expected to expand further as producers continue to plant new tress, but at a smaller rate than other Tree Nuts. Crop Area While almond trees are planted from Region IV (Ovalle) down to Region VIII (Chillan), over 80 percent of total planted area is in the central regions, specifically Region VI (Rancagua) and the Metropolitan Region (Santiago). The largest increases during recent years of new planted orchards are in Region IV (Ovalle) area, as was indicated by industry officials. Although Chile has no special advantages in almond production, industry sources indicate that in the next 5 to 7 years an estimated 500 hectares will be planted every year. Out of this total approximately 100 hectares will replace old aging orchards and 400 hectares will correspond to new-planted area. Almonds are planted on irrigated land and average yields are estimated to be between 800 Kg to slightly over one metric ton per hectare. An estimated 60 percent of the production comes from medium size producers who have from 6 to 25 hectares planted with average production of 2 to 3 thousand Kilos per hectare, although there are also some with less than 1,000 Kg. per hectare. Industry sources report that although many producers are increasing their plantings, total planted area in Chile will most probably not exceed 15,000 hectares, as almonds compete with avocados and citrus for the best production areas. These crops have the same constraints: soil and weather (rainfall and frost). New avocado and citrus (mainly tangerines) plantings have exploded during the last few years as a result of excellent economic returns. Inputs Nonpareil is the main variety planted, accounting for 48 percent of the total planted area. Other varieties like Carmel, Merced, Solano and Price are used mainly for pollination. Industry sources have indicated that an increasing number of producers are planting new varieties developed from varieties coming from Spain like Madera and Allinone. All commercial almond orchards are planted on irrigated land. However, only an estimated 40 percent of the planted area has modern irrigation systems (drip irrigation). Trade: Most almonds exported are shelled and sent to markets where Chile has tariff preferences like Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and the European Union (Spain, Italy and the Netherlands). Chile also imports almonds, mainly from the United States. Industry sources indicated that imports are mainly used by the confectionery industry and are of a smaller size than the ones produced in Chile. Policy: There are no specific Government policies regulating or benefiting almond production in Chile. The general import duty on almonds is 6 percent. However, as a result of the US-Chile Free Trade Agreement, US almonds enter Chile duty free. Production, Supply and Demand Data Statistics: Almonds, Shelled Basis Chile 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013 Market Year Begin: Dec 2010 Market Year Begin: Dec 2011 Market Year Begin: Dec 2012 USDA Official New Post USDA Official New Post USDA Official New Post Area Planted 0 8,900 0 9,200 9,600 Area Harvested 0 6,590 0 6,624 7,000 Bearing Trees 0 2,344 0 2,356 2,490 Non-Bearing Trees 0 729 0 821 825 Total Trees 0 3,073 0 3,177 3,315 Beginning Stocks 800 800 600 273 773 Production 6,000 9,000 6,000 10,000 11,000 Imports 3,100 2,305 3,500 2,500 2,500 Total Supply 9,900 12,105 10,100 12,773 14,273 Exports 6,300 9,132 6,000 9,200 10,700 Domestic Consumption 3,000 2,700 3,500 2,800 2,900 Ending Stocks 600 273 600 773 673 Total Distribution 9,900 12,105 10,100 12,773 14,273 HA, 1000 TREES, MT Export Trade Ma trix Country Chile Commodity Almonds, Shelled Basis Exports for: 2011 2012 Time Period Jan-Dec Units: M.T. Units: Volume Value Volume Value U.S. 26 162 U.S. 59 356 Others Others Brazil 1,970 11,536 Brazil 965 5,740 Argentina 1,882 10,233 Argentina 523 3,072 Mexico 1,416 8,175 Mexico 340 1,979 Venezuela 1,339 11,764 Colombia 290 1,719 Colombia 637 3,734 Italy 276 1,712 UA Emirates 374 2,103 Venezuela 272 1,945 Spain 321 1,568 UA Emirates 190 1,079 Ecuador 223 1,473 Spain 149 703 Italy 165 1,020 Ecuador 141 895 Germany 148 850 Peru 82 519 Total for Others 8,475 3,228 Others not Listed 631 492 Grand Total 9,132 56,406 3,779 22,703 Note: 2012 data is from January through July only.
Posted: 29 September 2012

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