To prepare for a greater supply of walnuts in coming years, people in the walnut business say they are investing in infrastructure and marketing to sustain future production and grow demand for the crop.
Walnut grower and processor Mike Andersen of Andersen & Sons Shelling in Vina, which processed more than 70 million pounds of shelled and in-shell walnuts last year, said the walnut sector needs to invest in infrastructure such as cold storage. Andersen, who sells conventional and organic walnuts, has updated the company's shelling facility to comply with new federal Food Safety Modernization Act requirements, and has separate storage rooms for improved traceability. Other updates include modernized equipment to increase efficiency and reduce employment costs.
"We put a big emphasis on the future. With the larger crops coming, we have to create more storage, and that's a big capital expenditure," said Andersen, who is constructing a second, 18,000 square-foot cold-storage facility for walnuts. "The problem with walnuts is we receive every single pound during a 45-day period, and then have to sit on them for up to 12 months."