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Australia Walnuts Industry
Walnuts in Australia.  Production areas. The major walnut production areas in Australia are on the east coast of Tasmania; in the Goulburn Valley near Shepparton and the Murray Irrigation Area near Kerang and Swan Hill in Victoria; and in the Riverina near Griffith in New South Wales. Small scale orchards are scattered in the Ovens Valley, Gippsland and central regions of Victoria, the Southern Highlands and Central Tablelands of New South Wales, the Adelaide Hills and Riverland regions of South Australia, and in south-west Western Australia. The Australian industry is a mix of small, older orchards and new, extensive orchards. Most orchards are family operations but these do not represent the majority of area under cultivation. Current production. In 2010, about 2,980 ha was under cultivation. This is expected to rise to more than 3,000 ha by 2016. Webster Limited is the largest walnut grower, owning and managing more than 2,200 ha of orchards. When mature, these orchards are expected to produce over 11,000 t in-shell. Australian production in 2013 increased to about 6,840 t, the result of optimal growing conditions. Production is expected to continue to increase over the next five years as new orchards planted come into bearing. Expansion will then slowas result of larger quantum funding options disappearing. Industry potential. Orchards established in the last five years have provided a firm base on which to build the industry. Factors encouraging investment include mechanical harvesting, that walnuts are relatively free from pests and diseases, continuing strong global demand and increasing awareness of the health benefits is also important. Wind pollination also ensures that fruit set is more reliable than bee pollination and is not dependent on specific temperatures. New varieties and improved propagation, orchard management and irrigation techniques have reduced time to bearing and increased nut yield. Australia is in a favourable position as there is limited scope for walnut production across the southern hemisphere, due to a lack of suitable climatic conditions, water, soil types and topography and capital raising ability. Markets: present and future. Current domestic consumption of in-shell walnuts has risen from 600 t to 800 t a year. Domestic consumption of kernel currently averages about 9,110 t of in-shell, sold through major retail chains and into bakery and confectionery industries. Locally produced walnuts now supply total domestic demand for in-shell walnuts. Despite a premium price, Australian in-shell walnuts are sought by local markets because of superior flavour and freshness for supply as snack food, and decoration on bakery items and confectionery. Several cracking facilities are currently operating, with capacity for increased production. A state-of-the-art cracking facility was commissioned at Leeton in New South Wales in March 2014. The relatively low cost of imported walnut kernel (and its use as a food ingredient) where price is of greater priority than quality, means that Australian product is not expected to replace imports for this use in the near future. Global growth in demand for walnuts has been maintained since 2011. World consumption has been increasing at a steady rate of about 4% per year. With greater awareness of the health benefits this rate is expected to be maintained. In 2011 about 70% of Australia’s walnut production was exported as in-shell walnuts. This percentage is expected to increase in the short term until production grows to provide enough critical mass for a large-scale cracking plant to supply the Australian walnut kernel markets. Competitive advantages. Australia has the opportunity to become a reliable exporter of counter-season walnuts to the northern hemisphere. The southern hemisphere produces just 3% of traded walnuts annually and for six months of the year Australia can supply the freshest walnuts in the world. Australia is free from many walnut pests and diseases affecting other countries so chemical use is low in Australian walnut production. http://nutindustry.org.au/
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