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    India largest market for California walnuts in South Asia: Industry expert

    Synopsis

    Pamela Graviet, the senior marketing director at the California Walnut Commission (CWC), said the appetite of Indians for walnuts shipped from California has grown significantly in the last few years. She, however, noted that the importation dropped after India changed its tariff rate policy for imported walnuts over a year ago.

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    "The appetite of Indians for walnuts shipped from California has grown significantly in the last few years."- Pamela Graviet
    NEW DELHI: India's appetite for California walnuts has boomed over the years, making it South Asia's largest consumer market of the dry fruit imported from America, a senior industry expert said, amid ongoing negotiations between New Delhi and Washington to settle their trade differences.

    Trade tensions between India and the United States escalated after President Donald Trump, championing his 'America First' policy, complained on Twitter that tariffs imposed by New Delhi on American products were "no longer acceptable" to his country.

    India imposed retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products, including walnuts, almonds and apples from June 5, after the Trump administration terminated its preferential trade privileges under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme.

    Pamela Graviet, the senior marketing director at the California Walnut Commission (CWC), said the appetite of Indians for walnuts shipped from California has grown significantly in the last few years.

    "Five years ago we entered the Indian market, and we have grown tremendously. There wasn't a single California walnut in the market then, and today there are about 10,000 tonnes that come into India," Graviet told PTI.

    "In South Asia, India has become the largest market for California Walnuts because most of South Asia is not aware what a walnut is. India is unique because it has a local production (from Kashmir) and people do know what a walnut is, while in many other countries they are clueless," she said.

    She, however, noted that the importation dropped after India changed its tariff rate policy for imported walnuts over a year ago.

    "A year and a half ago, India changed the tariff rate for any imported walnut. Prior to that, the walnuts that were in shell would come into Indian market with a tariff rate of little over 30 per cent.

    "Then there was a change in the base rate, that any walnuts in shell would come at a rate of 100 per cent. That slowed down the importation of walnuts not just from the US, but also from other countries that produce walnuts. So there's less of them coming in the country currently," she said.

    Touching upon the ongoing trade tensions between India and the US, Graviet said they were hopeful that the negotiating teams will reach an agreement that would be beneficial for both the countries.

    Last month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during a lecture at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the US, said trade negotiations between India and the US were going well and will conclude sooner than expected.

    "I think the trade talks would conclude sooner. The talks are going on very well. Yes, we couldn't conclude it before the Prime Minister's visit (to the US) happened. But both sides are engaged with all commitment," Sitharaman had said.

    "Trade tension is something that takes a lot of time to get resolved. The good news is that the Indian and the US sides are talking, discussing and try to work out a solution that benefits both the countries," Graviet said.

    She said the growers in California were disappointed with India's decision to change its tariff policy.

    The growers were disappointed that there was a tariff change, but we also recognise that countries have to do what is in their best interest, she said.

    "Indian consumers are aware of the various health benefits of walnuts... Walnuts are one of the few foods that offer Omega-3 fatty acids, and with a high vegetarian diet, Indians tend to be extremely deficient of Omega-3 acids. "It is almost on a crisis levels according to your government...So we see tremendous opportunity here in India particularly with the vegetarian diet. It is one of those natural choices that fits into the diet," she added.

    The California walnut industry, CWC, is made up of over 4,800 walnut growers and 88 walnut handlers/processors.

    The walnut crop year is from September-August. India produces around 30,000-35,000 tonnes of walnuts in Jammu and Kashmir, according to official data.
    (Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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    6 Comments on this Story

    Ramaswami Subramanian317 days ago
    This is how the valuable indian earnings, savings are vanishing without showing desired level of development within.
    Ramaswami Subramanian317 days ago
    Indiana have lived and survived through the ages without knowing what is "walnut" and "Omega-3". Indian groundnuts were extensively and popularly used at affordable cost. Proper awareness to be created amongst the people about the Indian agricultural produces rather than succumbing to unreachable and unknown benefits ignoring affordable, known and proven ones, categorising it as the one of very ancient and traditional. Let us not waste our valuable resources and vye for commodity causing imbalance to the individuals and the nation alike
    ST317 days ago
    Since California has their own state Walnut Commission (CWC), it needs to get into the act on behalf of the state''s walnut growers.
    California is also the largest producer of almond – with 80% of the farms being family owned.
    Lobbying is an accepted practice in the US. So, maybe the CWC can work towards ironing out trade differences, as it will benefit both the countries, particularly since walnut and almond farming is a major contributor do jobs and economic growth of the state.
    The Economic Times