Chile walnut processors and exporters have formed the Chilean Walnut Commission.

Its members represent 50% of the nation’s export volume, commission president Andres Rodriguez said Jan. 4. He expects participation to quickly reach 80%.

Chile exports 28,000 tons of its 30,000-ton walnut production. More than 80% goes to five countries: Brazil, Turkey, Germany, Spain and Italy.

“Given that the U.S. is an important producer and in walnuts there is not a counterseason opportunity as we have with fresh fruit, nowadays we almost don’t export walnuts (there),” Rodriguez said.

Nevertheless, Chile is seeking new places to sell walnuts.

“In the next four years we will double our production, so one of our main challenges is to develop new markets,” Rodriguez said.

“Our expansion has more opportunities in new markets where walnut importation is a way of complementing their own, or no, production to reach domestic demand.”

Among the commission’s first items of business is creating an export quality seal to provide consumers a guarantee of quality and uniformity, he said.