The agreement to export unshelled walnuts signed on January 28th in Beijing between Chile’s Ministry of Agriculture and representatives from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine in China (AQSIQ), is the result of a pioneering strategy led by the ministry of agriculture in conjunction with the walnut exporters trade union. Over the past five years, all requirements have been met and all authorizations have been obtained, granting Chilean exporters access to the Chinese market, a market composed of more than one billion inhabitants.
“This agreement complements the one signed with China in 2014, which allowed the entry of unshelled walnuts into the country, but only represented 5% of Chinese imports. Now, this agreement enables us to access the other 95% of the Chinese market for unshelled walnuts”, stated Andrés Rodríguez, Executive Chairman of the Chilean Walnut Commission, who also pointed out that China is the world’s number one walnut producer, but also the largest importer, with purchases between 70 thousand and 150 thousand tons a year.
Our country is currently the sixth largest walnut producer, but the third largest exporter, behind the United States (California) and the Ukraine. “If current annual growth rates remain steady, we could double production over the next five years and become the world’s second largest exporter”, explains Rodríguez. In addition, there are competitive advantages compared to other importers thanks to the high quality of the Chilean product, the offseason supply complementing Asian production and a duty-free FTA in place, which pays 0% tax compared to the 25% paid by other sources.
Chile’s 2015 walnut harvest added up to over 65 thousand tons, and this year it is expected to reach 80,000 tons, with nearly 99,000 planted acres, which are growing by approximately 7,000 acres a year. This increase can be explained by Chile’s comparative advantages compared to other world producers, such as being a phytosanitary island that protects local agriculture from foreign pests, having a Mediterranean climate that is ideally suited to this type of crop, the gradual introduction of cutting edge technology into the production process and the solid image the Chilean product has earned overseas.
“Creating sector brand Walnuts from Chile has played a key role in positioning this industry in the world market” says Rodríguez, highlighting the fact that counting with the support of ProChile has also had a huge impact in promoting the industry abroad. “As part of these efforts, we have implemented positioning campaigns in European and Asian markets, earning some big wins and placing Chile’s name on the list of the world’s most trustworthy, high quality walnuts” added the Executive Chairman.