US – Georgian Walnut Enterprise has expanded walnut processing in Georgia adding a line for drying nuts and storage facilities, and a line for packaging nuts in 10-kilogram plastic bags.
According to the company’s founder, Giorgi Meskhidze, the products will be sold in this form for export and the domestic market.
The investment amounted to more than 350,000 euros (USD 368,655). Thanks to this modernization, production capacity increased to 600 tons per season.
The company had installed the Spanish Obreo line for processing walnuts and began using equipment for processing nuts from the harvest in 2020 according to Fresh Plaza.
Currently, the company owns the largest intensive walnut orchard in Georgia, located in Gurjaani, Kakheti (Eastern Georgia), on 230 hectares.
The entire area is occupied by the Chandler variety, which was planted in stages starting in 2015.
The company founder, Giorgi Meskhidze, further revealed that potential export markets for Georgian Chandler are the EU countries, the UAE, and the UK.
In another recently published article, the founder of the Anigozi company and member of the supervisory board of the Association of Almond and Walnut Producers of Georgia, Anna Kevkhishvili, projected that this season, the walnut harvest will be 3.3–3.4 thousand tons, which is significantly more than last year’s.
The entrepreneur associated the increase in production with the beginning of full fruiting in many modern gardens, which have reached 5–6 years of age, as well as with a change in the attitude of farmers towards orchard management.
“Chandler, the main variety in modern walnut orchards in Georgia, is demanding but the most commercially interesting for growing,” Anna Kevkhishvili commented in an interview with bm.ge. “With each season, the knowledge and experience base of our agronomists, for whom this variety is still relatively new, increases.”
In the 2022/23 season, local demand for walnuts increased enormously compared to 2021/22, so a significant part of the Georgian walnut was sold on the local market. The increase in demand, in turn, led to an increase in imports to Georgia, she added.
According to EastFruit analysts, in January 2023 alone, Georgia imported 3.5 times more walnuts than a year earlier.
In general, in the 2022/23 season (from September to August), Georgia imported walnuts (both in shell and kernels) for USD 6.8 million, and in the 2021/22 season – for USD 3.9 million.
As for prices, this year, the shelled walnut will cost from 15 to 25 lari (USD 5.6-9.3) depending on the quality and caliber.
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