On June 1, the Association of Almond and Walnut Growers of Georgia, with the support of the USAID program, organized a seminar on the export of crucial nut crops. During the event, Giorgi Gudabandze, an expert of the Georgian Exporters Association, presented an overview of the export markets for Georgian almonds and walnuts. According to the Association, 5,500 hectares of almond orchards and 4,500 walnut orchards have been planted in Georgia, but only 11% of almond and 27% of walnut orchards bear fruit. Therefore, in the next few years, local production of walnut crops will only increase. Where to sell Georgian nuts?
The Georgian Exporters Association has identified three countries – Germany, Turkey, and Azerbaijan – and one region – The Gulf – as export destinations for Georgian almonds and walnuts.
According to Giorgi, the methodology of selecting the markets mentioned above as the most promising destinations for walnuts and almonds are following – signed or soon-to-be-signed free trade agreement (FTA), high nuts consumption and dependence on import, availability of processing capacities, increased purchasing power, and the possibility of promotion like trade fairs and other promotional opportunities in these regions/countries. Also, mentioned markets are desirable in both retail and wholesale trade.
Germany is the largest economy in the European Union (EU). As almonds are not produced in Germany on an industrial scale, the country is and will remain a net importer in the future. Germany ranks third in terms of physical volumes of almond imports. The driver here is healthy snacking and the popularity growth of alternative drinks like almond “milk.”
Türkiye is a net importer of almonds. The consumption of almonds in Türkiye is estimated at 40,000 tons. Almonds are mainly consumed as a snack, and a limited amount is used in the confectionery and cosmetic industries. In the last few years, sales of packaged almonds have increased, and about 1/3 of the nuts are sold in packaged form. At the same time, Türkiye is also actively expanding its production of almonds, reports EastFruit.
Walnuts are the second most consumed nut in Türkiye after hazelnuts. According to International Nut Council (INC), Türkiye is among the top five walnut consumption per capita – about one kg per year. Walnut consumption has increased significantly in recent years due to consumer awareness of the health benefits of nuts and increased retail availability of packaged nuts.
Georgia has already experienced hazelnut exports to Türkiye and Germany and established trade links.
Giorgi has reviewed transportation to Germany and stated that auto transport is the quickest and most convenient way, while train transport would be cheaper. However, “in 2022 there were only 2 cases of transporting agri products from Georgia to EU countries (France & Netherlands). According to him, “sea transport would be another solution in case the new ferry lines will start operation.”
Imports of walnuts in the shell of the UAE have doubled over the past five years and amounted to 48 thousand tons. A similar situation is with the walnut kernel – here, imports to the UAE reached 7.9 thousand tons. A sea route is also an option here – recently, Georgian apples were exported to Dubai by sea.
The Association considers Azerbaijan a potential export destination due to the proximity of the border, which enables logistics, FTA, high purchasing power, and re-export possibility from Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has processing capacities and also actively develops its production of almonds.
Giorgi Gudabandze considers the main competitors for Georgia in selected markets will be the traditional producers of the mentioned products: Spain, Italy, the USA, etc. “But it is crucial to analyze our advantages and identify the correct target segments,” states Giorgi. He considers that “if we are going to position our product as premium quality/bio/organic, etc., we must target retail and the HoReCa sector. Other quality products should go to the wholesale sector”.
We remind you that currently, Georgia is a net importer of nuts. According to the Georgian Exporters Association, the largest supplier of walnuts to Georgia is Ukraine, whose share in the structure of Georgian imports over the past five years amounted to 97% (in value). Spain is the largest supplier of almonds, accounting for over 50% of imports, followed by the UAE (18%) and Australia (8%).
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