Report Highlights:

Italy is the second largest hazelnut producer in the world ahead of the United States, but behind Turkey, whose huge supply dominates the world market. Italian hazelnut producers have increasingly improved their production techniques (irrigation, fertilization, pesticide use, and mechanization) enhancing yield and maintaining Italy’s competitiveness in the world market. Hazelnut production is cyclical, bearing heavily in alternate years. MY 2014 will be a “lower” bearing year, with approximately 85,000 MT of hazelnuts produced. Moreover, continuous rain in July impaired pollination, while the cold temperatures during August compromised the harvest.

PISTACHIOS 

PRODUCTION 

Pistachio is a traditional crop in Italy, especially in Sicily region (Bronte area), where more than 90 percent of the production is located. Bianca (also called Napoletana) is the main pistachio variety grown in Italy and is normally harvested in September. In recent years, pistachio production has slightly expanded to other areas in Sicily and Basilicata, where newer and input intensive orchards have been planted. Since 2004, pistachio from Bronte has been awarded by the European Commission as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), distinguishing it from all other pistachio varieties worldwide. Pistachio trees production is cyclical, bearing heavily in alternate years. MY 2014 will be a “lower” bearing year. Moreover, continuous rain during flowering in April impaired pollination. Quality is expected to be good. 

CONSUMPTION 

Italian in-shell pistachios are consumed as a snack food. Bakeries and food companies use shelled pistachios, while ice-cream makers mainly employ milled pistachios. 

TRADE 

Italian pistachio production is not sufficient to cover domestic demand, resulting in significant imports from Iran (via Germany and Belgium) and the United States (3,046 MT in 2013). 

ALMONDS 

PRODUCTION 

Italy’s MY 2014 almond production is forecast to increase significantly from the previous year to approximately 7,000 MT. Quality is expected to be exceptional. However, due to strong competition from competitively priced Californian and Australian almonds, cultivation in Italy has become less profitable. Therefore, many farmers have been abandoning this crop or shifting to more rewarding cultivations (i.e., citrus fruit, wine grapes, horticultural products). Furthermore, almond orchards are often located in areas where mechanization is not always feasible. For all these reasons, planted area is forecast to further decline in the years to come. 

CONSUMPTION 

In-shell almonds are mainly sold for fresh consumption. Shelled almonds are milled and generally used as a raw material for confectionary and bakery food companies. 

TRADE 

In 2013, Italy imported 29,346 MT of almonds, mainly from the United States (16,880 MT) and Spain (7,473 MT). In 2013, Italy exported 7,500 MT of almonds mainly to Germany (2,328 MT), France (1,313 MT), and the United States (770 MT). 

WALNUTS 

PRODUCTION 

Italy’s MY 2014 walnut harvest is forecast to stay flat at approximately 10,000 MT. Quality is expected to be good. Italy lost its walnut market leadership a few decades ago and now is a major importer, mainly from the United States. Because farmers generally grow walnut trees for both timber and nuts, nut yields and quality have suffered. Higher input costs and lower prices have negatively affected crop profitability. As a result, Italian walnut production supplies about 20 percent of domestic requirements and the remainder is imported. Most walnuts are cultivated in Campania (Southern Italy), where the main varieties are Sorrento and Malizia. Some farmers in Northern Italy have established efficient and profitable walnut orchards planted with the Chandler and Lara varieties. 

CONSUMPTION 

In-shell and shelled walnuts for fresh consumption are mainly purchased during the winter months. However, more consumers are increasingly purchasing walnuts all year round, thanks to their perceived nutritional benefits. 

TRADE 

Italy imports mainly in-shell walnuts (mostly the Hartley variety) from the United States until June. Then, walnuts are imported principally from South America (Chile and Argentina) and Australia. France is also a major supplier to the Italian market. Furthermore, Bulgaria has been gradually increasing its walnut shipments to Italy in the past three years. 

HAZELNUTS 

PRODUCTION 

Italy is the second largest hazelnut producer in the world ahead of the United States, but behind Turkey, whose huge supply dominates the world market. Italian hazelnut producers have increasingly improved their production techniques (irrigation, fertilization, pesticide use, and mechanization) enhancing yield and maintaining Italy’s competitiveness in the world market. The average farm net revenue fluctuates between €2,500 and €3,000/ha. Hazelnut production is spread around Italy with concentrations in Piedmont region (Northern Italy), Viterbo province (Central Italy), Avellino province (Southern Italy), and Sicily region (Southern Italy). Hazelnut production is cyclical, bearing heavily in alternate years. MY 2014 will be a “lower” bearing year, with approximately 85,000 MT of hazelnuts produced. Moreover, continuous rain in July impaired pollination, while the cold temperatures during August compromised the harvest. 

CONSUMPTION 

Hazelnuts in Italy are sold both in-shell and shelled shape. In-shell hazelnuts are generally sold as a snack for fresh consumption, while shelled ones ―both whole and milled nuts― are usually employed as a raw material for confectionary and bakery food companies. Furthermore, low quality shelled hazelnuts are often used by cosmetic companies. Approximately 90 percent of the Italian harvest goes to processing companies, whereas fresh consumption represents the remaining 10 percent. 

TRADE 

In 2013, Italy imported 77,853 MT of hazelnuts, mainly from Turkey. In 2013, Italy exported 29,734 MT of hazelnuts, mostly to Germany, France, and Switzerland. 

Abbreviations and Definitions Used in this Report 

MY Marketing Year 

Almonds, Hazelnuts and Pistachios: September/August 

Walnuts: October/September 

HS Codes: 

Almonds: Shelled 080212; In-shell 080211 

Walnuts: Shelled 080232; In-shell 080231 

Filberts/Hazelnuts: Shelled 080222; In-shell 080221 

Pistachios: Shelled 080252; In-shell 080251 

Conversion factors used to convert shelled to in-shell tree nuts: 

Almonds: 3.3 

Hazelnuts: 2.03 

Walnuts: 3.3 

Pistachios: 1.5 

Ha hectare; 1 ha = 2.471 acres 

MT Metric ton = 1,000 kg 

MS EU member state(s)