In value terms, the global walnut market stood at $18,3bn in 2017 (IndexBox estimates), recovering slightly after a sharp drop in 2016. A gradual increase from 2010 to 2015 was followed by a sharp -12% decline in 2016, when the global walnut market shrank, after which the market value bounced back slightly. These fluctuations were caused by a downturn in walnut prices in 2016 on the backdrop of large harvests in major exporting countries, but then the market stabilised.
Rising population and incomes, health awareness and the current demand for healthy food and for various different ingredients designed to be used for health and beauty purposes, all constitute the main driving force behind the walnut market. Therefore, the market volume is expected to continue on an upward consumption trend, increasing with an anticipated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of +3,3%, which will take the market volume to 2,8 billion tonnes.China comprises approximately half of global walnut consumption
China (1,045,000 tonnes) was the country with the highest level of consumption, accounting for 48% of the global figure. It was followed by Iran (242,000 tonnes), the United States (US) (217,000 tonnes) and Turkey (127,000 tonnes). In addition, China was the largest producer of walnuts in the world.
In 2017, amongst the key consumer countries, Iran (3,0 kg/person) registered the highest per capita consumption figure. It was followed by Turkey (1,6 kg/person), the US (0,7 kg/person) and China (0,7 kg/person). Per capita consumption in these countries was higher than the global average of 0,3 kg per person. While the per capita consumption in China and the US posted a significant growth from 2007 to 2017 (with a CAGR of +11,3% and +10,0%, respectively), in Iran the growth was more moderate (+2.6% per year) and in Turkey, it mirrored its outset level.Global walnut production levelled off after a period of strong growth
The production of walnuts reached 3,977 000 tons (in-shell weight) in 2017, fluctuating mildly over the period under review. The overall trend pattern was upward, rising on average by +7,2% per year from 2007 to 2017; however, it flattened in 2017 due to a slight decrease of production in China. The harvested area in terms of walnut orchards also expanded robustly, reaching 1,382 000 hectares worldwide.China continues to dominate global walnut production
China remains the key global walnut producing country with an output of approximately 1,890 000 tons (in-shell weight) in 2017, which accounted for 47% of the total output. The other major producers lagged far behind in terms of walnut output: the US (17%), Iran (11%), Turkey (4%), Mexico (4%) and Ukraine (3%).
In China, production levels had been increasing by +11,6% annually from 2007 to 2017. Chinese walnut cultivation is mainly situated in the provinces of Yunnan, Xinjiang, Hebei, Shaanxi, Henan and Gansu. In 2017, adverse weather conditions damaged the crop in the Yunnan province, the country’s largest walnut producing region. In the other major provinces, the harvest developed slightly due to new bearings and improved irrigation, but not enough to offset the loss in Yunnan. The result was a slight decrease of the production volume in China and, consequently, the world total.Only 11% of the global walnut output is intended for exports
Walnuts are a widely traded commodity, with the share of exports in total global output standing at approximately 11% in 2017. The trade intensity is not very high due to the fact that most of the walnuts are consumed locally (especially in China); however, there are small but significant amounts of imported walnuts in many countries throughout the world.USA remains the main global supplier of walnuts
The export volume totalled 244 000 tons in 2017 which is 11% more than in the previous year. The volume of walnut export maintained a stable positive trend, growing with an average growth rate +6,0% per year.
In 2017 the value of exports totalled $2,085 000 million which was the peak value in the observed period. Unlike the export volume, the export value fluctuated during the observed period due to price fluctuations. There was a sharp drop in 2016 due to a decrease in walnut price that year, depressed by an oversupply of rich harvests in major producing countries. In the following year, the prices bounced back slightly, and the value of imports has almost regained its former peak level.
As of 2017, the USA had the largest export volume of 101 000 tons, comprising 41% of total global import. It was followed by Mexico (15%), Ukraine (11%), Chile (10%), Moldova (6%) and Germany (4%).
Germany was the fastest growing walnut exporter with a CAGR of +15,6% per year, followed by Chile (+13,0% per year), Mexico (+11,3% per year) and Japan (+10,2% per year).Germany emerged as the largest walnut importer
The volume of global imports totalled 247 000 tons in 2017, which is 10% more than in the previous year. In value terms, it equated to $1,732,000m. The volume of walnut import maintained a trend pattern which echoed that of the volume of exports: these trade flows complement each other at a global scale.
As of 2017, Germany had the largest import volume of 35 000 tons which was 14% of total global import. It was followed by Japan (8%), South Korea (6%), Spain (5%), France (5%) and Canada (4%).
Germany was also the fastest growing walnut importer with a CAGR of +11,1% from 2007 to 2017. It was followed by South Korea (+9,1% per year), Spain (+6,0% per year) and Japan (+5,9% per year).