Dec 2, 2022
California Walnuts launches new effort to expand distribution

The California walnut industry is forging a new strategic direction that will broaden U.S. distribution and accelerate consumption. This two-fold effort takes advantage of opportunities offered by walnuts’ health halo and untapped culinary versatility.

While conceding that walnut growers and handlers are facing tough challenges, the industry is adopting changes to plan for a resilient future.

“Our path forward is a major break from the past, which is needed to compete in today’s maturing global market,” said Robert Verloop, the recently appointed executive director and CEO of the California Walnut Board and California Walnut Commission. “The industry is evolving its thinking into how to solve business challenges and one effort is reaching new consumers through pathways that promise tremendous opportunity for the broader food industry.”

The new pathways are:

  • Fresh produce positioning at retail

One of the industry’s first goals is about simple geography: adding walnuts to the retail produce department and promoting the produce alignment to consumers.

“While walnuts will always have a home in the baking aisle, the produce positioning supports shopper demand to easily find healthier food choices and offers opportunities for co-marketing programs with complementary items,” added Verloop.

Research shows 76% of consumers are more likely to purchase walnuts when they are displayed alongside fresh fruits and vegetables in the produce aisle.

  • Plant-based and meat alternative products at foodservice and food manufacturing

The walnut industry is seeking collaborations with foodservice operators and food manufacturers to innovate with product formulation and take advantage of consumer interest in plant-based foods and meat alternatives. Due to their unique texture and buttery flavor, walnuts check all the boxes for a plant-based diet, meat alternative and flavor.

Verloop noted the industry is actively connecting with chefs and product developers to explore partnerships and concepts, bolstered by California’s high-quality, consistent supply.

For more information about the California walnut industry, please visit

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