Growers in the Willamette Valley produce nearly all the hazelnuts eaten in the U.S. But Oregon’s hazelnut growers will only get roughly half the price they did last year for their crop.
Terry Ross, executive director at the Hazelnut Growers Bargaining Association, says a number of global factors have led to a worst-case scenario for Oregon growers.
A high inflation rate in Turkey, which produces as much as 70% of the global supply of hazelnuts, has led to a much lower-cost product. In addition, tariffs in China have made that a difficult market for Oregon growers. And global shipping prices are double what they were three years ago.
All of this means that many Oregon growers may not break even this year.
“Growers who are at peak production will probably break even - maybe make a small profit,” said Ross. “But for many of our growers who are not yet into peak production or have orchards that are older and struggling with any crop issues ... unfortunately, these prices will be below their cost of production.”
Ross says there’s one silver lining: perhaps the low prices will cause more Americans to start eating hazelnuts.
“The hope is that five or 10 years from now,” he said, “we’ll look back and say this was a really tough time for our industry, But it was the spark that really got us going into our own domestic markets.”