California Walnut Board ramps up retail programs for record crop

California Walnut Board ramps up retail programs for record crop

With a record crop expected, the California Walnut industry is focusing on retail promotions to help move it.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting production at 780,000 short tons, a 19% increase from the previous season. An increase in acreage, more densely planted orchards and heavier yielding varieties have led to the increase, grower and California Walnut Board member Robert Driver said in the release.

The board has planned for the growth, according to the release.

“Efforts are underway to encourage greater support from food retailers through two national promotional campaigns, American Heart Month and a program focused on growing snacking usage,” Jennifer Olmstead, marketing director of domestic public relations for the board. “While walnuts are not often thought of as a snack, our consumers are telling us otherwise with snacking becoming the top consumer use.”

To respond to changing consumer habits, the California Walnut Board has shifted more resources to digital programs and influencer campaigns.

“We are excited to reach shoppers in new ways this season, and we will remain nimble as the retail landscape changes,” Don Ladhoff, retail program coordinator for the board, said in the release. “We will also amplify our messaging around storing walnuts in the refrigerator and/or freezer to maximize shelf life as shoppers look to reduce waste while stocking their homes with nutritious foods.” 

Promotions for American Hearth Month in February and a snacking campaign in July include store displays, circular and digital advertising and integration into retail dietitian programs, according to the release. The board plans to support the two promotions with a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign. 

“This year’s expected record crop comes on the heels of strong retail sales, with shoppers’ growing interest in consuming foods with both great taste and functional benefits,” Jack Mariani, the board’s Market Development Committee chairman, said in the release.

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