Ia nut takes out his megaphone. More precisely, in Paris, in front of Saint-Lazare station, Monday May 22, at 10 a.m. Parisians, commuters and chance travelers are invited to taste the nuts, delivered fresh and free of charge. A free distribution as a warning signal, not to stop the trains, but to accelerate awareness of the crisis affecting this production. The agricultural union Rural Coordination has chosen to shake up the media coconut tree for the owners of walnut trees.
The balance between supply and demand makes and breaks markets. The nut failed to slip through the fingers of this harsh law. However, in 2022, Mother Nature has spread her benefits over French orchards. The walnut trees bent under the weight of the loaded branches and the volumes harvested piled up.
The Grenoble walnut, which prides itself on having won its protected designation of origin in 1938, says so in good faith. Never in its history had it weighed so heavily on the scales. It estimates its production at 17,000 tons, against an annual average of 12,300 tons. Same decor in Périgord. As a result, the French walnut collection could be around 50,000 tonnes, compared to the usual 35,000 tonnes.
China crushes the competition
For proponents of productive agriculture, this bumper crop might sound like good news. Except that at the same time, European consumers are choosy. With the rise in prices, sales are down. They would be down 20%. Something to destabilize the market. When the rhythm of the nutcrackers slows down, the fruit business turns into a puzzle. Especially since worldwide, walnut orchards have spread.
Unsurprisingly, China crushes the competition, with a production of more than 1.5 million tons. It is followed by the United States, or rather California, where nut farmers have sprouted like mushrooms. In Europe too, the nut has aroused greed. Romania has planted orchards with a vengeance, hoping to make hazelnuts. With this enthusiasm, the production of walnuts has almost doubled in ten years on the planet, exceeding 3.6 million tons. As a result, competition has intensified. Because this dry fruit is not afraid to roam around, even in a nutshell. And the courses took the water.
The nut has drowned, cry the French producers. Even if the franquette of Grenoble plays the starlet for export, the AOP of Isère flowing for half outside the borders, the Californian or Chilean competitors come to break the atmosphere. According to the Rural Coordination, the price paid to French producers has plummeted under the pressure of imports, dropping from 3 euros per kilo in 2022 to 50 cents. Some of them denounce the bad trick played by the distribution, which sometimes resells the nut up to 8 euros per kilo. Nuts at bargain prices, but well-greased margins…