Apr 20, 2021The importance of MAP to the walnut industry outlined
Increasing consumer demand for California walnuts in key export markets is an important piece of the larger process of building demand globally. One piece of this effort is successfully gaining access to available grant programs, such as the Market Access Program.
Through Market Access Program (MAP), the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) partners with U.S. agricultural trade associations, such as the California Walnut Commission, as well as state regional trade groups and small businesses to share the costs of overseas marketing and promotional activities that help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities. MAP, established through the Farm Bill, has a spending cap of $200 million each year that includes grants to successful applicants as well as covers USDA’s administrative costs to run the program.
Every year, the USDA announces the application process and timeline through the Federal Register, and a new application, called the Unified Export Strategy (UES), must be submitted. Each application competes against others for a share of the funding. FAS looks at many factors when they review an application, including if the organization is willing to match funding, how successful past programs have been, and the market opportunity in a given country. FAS reviews the proposals and awards funds to applicants that demonstrate the potential for effective performance based on a clear, long-term strategic plan.
Since the Commission’s inception in 1987, the CWC has shown outstanding planning and performance, year after year, receiving over $153 million dollars to build demand for walnuts around the world. This funding has allowed the CWC to expand and grow marketing programs well beyond what could have been done through industry funds alone.
The CWC uses MAP funds to open new markets, grow existing markets, and expand walnut use to new areas. With extensive competition, from not only walnut-producing countries but from other nuts, seeds, and culture-specific snacks/ingredients, the CWC also uses these funds to develop and maintain a competitive advantage. Market development is essential to making sure that demand stays ahead of supply, and the California walnut industry is the only walnut producer that has an extensive, ongoing program, both here at home as well as overseas. Many markets have been developed through MAP programs, such as South Korea and Japan. In South Korea, shelled market access was granted in 1994 and inshell market access was granted in 2006.
The Commission worked to include walnuts in the 2008 U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, otherwise known as KORUS, that was finally enacted in 2012. By the end of the 2019/20 crop year, Korea ranked 6th in export shipments for the industry with more than 55 million inshell equivalent pounds shipped. More recently, California walnuts were granted access to India after long negotiations. While market development in India is still in its infancy, the country shows great promise as nut consumption keeps increasing. Once a country has been identified, work begins with educating the trade, then expands to include educating the consumer. MAP has enabled the California walnut industry to open many new markets, on four continents, and increase exports dramatically.
As global walnut production continues to increase and pressure California competitiveness around the globe, participation in MAP remains critical to our success to develop new markets, new segments and new users. While the U.S. remains the industry’s #1 market, exports have been and will continue to be a significant driver for future success. In 1995, exports were 37% of shipments at 86,000 tons. By the end of last season, exports were 63% of shipments and have grown to just over 413,000 tons. The CWC’s ability to boost export revenues and volumes within a relatively short period of time can be directly attributed to participation in MAP.