Growing Demand Today, Tomorrow, & Years to Come

California Walnuts
Jun 15, 2018
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The California Walnut Board and Commission are here to build demand for the exceptional product our growers produce. In 2016/17 a new record was set with a crop of 685,000 tons, 2% higher than the estimate and 13.5% higher than the year before. While the 2017/18 crop came in lower than the previous year, compared to where we were just five years ago, we are still up by over 32%. And the crop has doubled in the last ten years. The CWB & CWC want to set the stage for strong demand for future crops as well as the current crop.

It is our goal to make walnuts the “go to” nut of choice for consumers’ cooking, baking, snacking, and the ingredient of choice for food manufacturers and food service operators. California walnuts are not just in the business of food, but in making an emotional connection with our audience through cooking, eating, and enjoying.

The industry continues to invest in raising consumer awareness for walnuts both domestically and abroad. The need for a strong consumer-facing identity is paramount to leverage our domestic advertising programs and the opportunity to have on-pack recognition. Last fall we launched the new California walnuts logo to meet that need. We have already seen several applications of the logo on package and expect more to come.

The new logo is featured in all California walnut advertising, which showcases the versatility of walnuts along with the ease of adding walnuts to everyday meals. The advertising strategy remains to build and increase U.S. shipments through national reach at impactful levels while maintaining continuity and frequency. This year’s campaign will reach 95% of adults in our target audience an average of 26 times.

Accompanying the advertising efforts is a complementary public relations program. Communications have focused around “Team Good Fat” which partnered walnuts with other good-fat foods telling the story that walnuts contain very necessary good fats the body requires. Not only is this story being communicated to consumers through traditional media, but also through supermarket RDs, health professional influencers, and traditional registered dietitians.

To further grow demand, the Board and Commission have begun programs targeting retail and industrial.

On the industrial products front, little new product development with walnuts had been conducted in recent years, showing ample room for opportunity. Industrial development represents an opportunity to move larger volumes. The CWC’s new industrial program is designed to establish the CWC as a dedicated resource to industrial needs, drive awareness among the food industry about walnuts and their benefits, and freshen image of walnuts. The new formulations from Mattson can be leveraged to showcase examples of how walnuts can fit into a variety of products.

Return on Investment

The California Walnut Board (CWB) continually ensures the methods used to build demand for California walnuts are in fact doing just that, building demand. Various factors are taken into account including visitors to the website, retail sales data, and a study of consumer attitudes and perceptions of California walnuts.

Our target audience is consumers and we can see through retail sales data that consumers are buying more walnuts now than they were a year ago, and even two years ago. 2015/16 was up about 5% over the previous year. 2016/17 was up about 6% over the previous year and 11% over the baseline year of 2014/15.

Another factor looks at the consumers’ response to our call-to-action which, in the case of TV and print, is to visit our website. There is a direct link between the airing of the TV ads and website traffic, indicating the TV ads are in fact generating action on the part of the consumer.

The CWB’s Consumer Attitude and Usage Study revealed the overall purchase intent for walnuts has increased 85% over the past decade. More than 8 in 10 respondents said they would definitely or probably purchase walnuts if they were shopping today and walnuts were available at a reasonable price. This increase in purchase intent extends to products containing walnuts, with intent to purchase those products rising to 83%, with a significant jump of 15% since the inception of the advertising program.

The CWB has tracked consumer perception of walnuts as a healthy food for nearly three decades. Looking at just the last decade, walnut consumers’ perception of walnuts as a healthy food has jumped from 67% to 95%. Even 80% of non-users believe walnuts are good for you. With nearly everyone agreeing walnuts are healthy, the CWB is looking at how walnuts impact health, such as consumers’ evolving understanding of the differences between good and bad fats, as well as reminding them of the health benefits beyond heart health.

Prior to the health research program, no consumers believed walnuts to be nutritious, and not surprising, no one bought walnuts for their health benefits. Fast forward 25 years and over 100 published health research papers later and now the majority of US consumers believe walnuts are healthy. Those benefits impact the purchase decision in 7 out of 10 consumers.

Investing in today, tomorrow, and our future.

The pillars of success, production research, post-harvest research, health research, and export and domestic marketing, work in tandem to increase demand and move current and future crops. These lead to new markets, such as the new program in the UK; new segments, like retail, industrial, and foodservice; new customers, such as a new restaurant, distributor, or manufacturer; all of which lead to new consumers.

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