Tariffs imposed by India against the United States are causing deep concern among California nut growers, who worry about where they will sell a significant portion of this year’s harvest.
The United States is the largest producer of almonds — and the second-largest producer of walnuts — in the world. Both markets depend highly on exports, but over the last year, they have lost major trading partners to tariff escalations.
Before India joined the fray, the greatest blow to California nuts came from China. That country imposed high retaliatory tariffs on both nuts last spring.
With that market gone, almond exporters turned to India, which began buying U.S. almonds almost immediately, and in amounts that essentially counteracted the loss of China.
India announced June 15 it would impose a 20 percent tariff on U.S. almonds and walnuts — along with 26 other products, including apples and lentils.The almond tariff amounts to about 20 cents a pound for shelled
almonds and 4 cents a pound for unshelled almonds.
California produces 80 percent of the almonds in the world, and 70 percent of the almonds grown in California are exported.
American walnuts, on the other hand, will likely be completely shut out of the India market under the tariff.India already had a 100 percent tariff on imported walnuts from all countries. Before the trade disputes began, 7.5 percent of California’s walnut crop went to China, according to the California Walnut Board. Europe and Turkey also were major importers, but both of those countries now tax American walnuts.
With roughly 65 percent of American walnuts being exported each year, prices have dropped. Payments to growers have hit their lowest in 30 years, adjusting for inflation.