Walnuts are the nuts produced by all tree belonging to the genus Juglans, particularly the English or Persian walnut. Walnuts are single-seeded round stone fruits produced by the walnut trees. They are used for food (after being processed) or for nutmeat (once they are ripe). The most commonly grown walnut species include the black and the English or Persian walnuts. The black walnuts are indigenous to eastern parts of North America while the English walnuts are native to Persia. The black walnuts have high flavor, but due to their poor hulling characteristics and hard shells, they are not grown for commercial purposes.
Top 3 Walnut Consuming Nations
China is the top walnut producing and consuming country in the world. China produced over 42% of the total walnuts produced globally during the 2017/18 season (871,850metric tons). Even though the Chinese are the top producers of walnuts, they are not the top exporters since a big percentage of their produce is consumed in China. In 2016, China contributed only 9% of the total exported walnut which is about 19,092 metric tons. The consumption per capita of walnuts in China is 0.62 pounds per year and in 2016 the country consumed over 403,719 metric tons of walnuts. China’s walnut consumption has been increasing gradually from 2012 to 2016. Since their consumption rate is almost as high as their production rate, China has to import walnuts and currently they are ranked among the top six walnut importers. China imported 11,007 metric tons of shelled walnuts in 2016 which is a 290% growth as compared to 2006 when they imported 2,817 metric tons.
2. United States
The United States is the second top walnuts producer in the world whose production accounted for about 26% of the total walnut harvested in 2016. The United States exported about 57% of the traded shelled walnuts in 2016 which amounts to 183,000 metric tons. 32% of their export was shipped to Turkey, 25% to Europe, and about 10% to China. In the last five years the United States traded about 49% of the exported walnuts. The Americans are the second top consumers of walnuts with a consumption per capita rate of 1.1 pounds per year. In 2016, Americans consumed over 160,220 metric tons of walnuts which is a 22% increase in the last five years.
Iran consumed over 41,836 metric tons of walnuts in 2016 making them the third top consumers in the world right behind the United States and China. Their total consumption in 2016 is actually the lowest in the last five years with the highest being 51,348 metric tons in 2015. Their consumption rate is 1.15 pounds per year which is actually the second top consumption per capita in the world right behind Israel (1.32 pounds per year). Iran produced about 4% of the total walnuts in the 2017/18 season and averagely in the last five years, they were the fourth top producers of walnuts.
Significant Growth in Walnut Production
Over the last decade, walnut production has been increasing gradually every year with the lowest production being in the 2007/08 season when it amounted to 485,122 metric tons. In the last decade, the average walnut production grew by over 44% with the highest production experienced in 2016/17 (881,524 metric tons). The production rate has been at a steady increase from 2013/14 (573,367 metric tons) to 2016/17 (881,524 metric tons) and during that period production grew by 53.7%. Walnut production reduced by 1.2% from 2015/16 to 2017/18.