November, the season of the walnut in France30-11-2016
With an annual production of 38,500 tonnes in 2015, – including 20,500 tonnes in the South-West region and 18,000 tonnes in Rhône-Alpes – France is one of Europe’s leading walnut producers, second only to Romania. France stands apart for its native production of two AOC walnuts, a label which distinguishes Grenoble and the Perigord as notable regions of production. In terms of consumption, the French eat on average 500g per capita every year, or in other terms, everyone in France eats a walnut a week, all year round. This figure has shown no signs of abating in recent years, largely as a result of the incredible versatility of the walnut and is increasingly varied consumption, used in salads, cakes and breads and even sprinkled in breakfast cereals.
France performing well in exports
France is the European leader in exports, and ranked second world-wide for walnuts sold in shell. In 2015, 24,935 tonnes of walnuts were exported and 3,222 tonnes of shelled walnuts or kernels (Source: French Customs). In Europe, Spain, Italy and Germany feature among France’s major customers. While Chile and California are its main competitors, walnuts from the Périgord stand apart for the premium quality of their whole and shelled walnuts, and have more than justified their market position. In addition, they are the only walnuts awarded the AOC label, testament to the importance of the cracking and shelling sector in France, particularly in the Perigord region.
Périgord walnuts in fine form
Périgord walnuts are one of two French walnuts awarded PDO status*. Production is mainly concentrated around the four French departments of Dordogne, Lot, Corrèze and Charente. Perlim, the Coopérative de Noix du Limousin Périgord, founded in September 1978, harnesses and showcases the expertise of the region’s growers. With more than 600 members, it produces 3,800 tonnes of walnuts. In total, 85% of the cooperative’s production is shipped abroad. For foreign consumers, Perigord walnuts are particularly appreciated for their creamy taste, which results from a gentler drying process than oher varieties.
« Another key driver is our skilled expertise in shelling. It’s a meticulous process delivering high-quality walnuts », believes Jonathan Rhodes, Director of the Perlim walnut coopérative.
Another way to discover walnuts would be a trip to the heart of the Perigord region. The Syndicat professionnel de la noix du Périgord, the local trade body responsible for promoting Perigord walnuts, has set up the « Route de la Noix du Périgord », an itinerary around the walnut production area aimed at tourists and a great opportunity to meet the key players involved in the production of AOC Perigord walnuts, including growers, restaurateurs, distilleries and walnut oil specialists.
Four new recipes for the 2016 vintage
The Syndicat professionnel de la noix et du cerneau de Noix du Périgord invited Chef Fréderic Coiffé to create four recipes that would showcase this iconic natural, healthy autumn fruit. Highlights include potato emulsion with Perigord walnut Crostini and smoked smoked magret, or why not try Fromage frais and Périgord walnut lollipops.
These recipes showcase Périgord walnuts and their countless nutritional benefits. They can be enjoyed on a daily basis to decorate a salad or for breakfast in muesli. They can also be enjoyed every day just as they are to savour their unique taste.
Walnuts from Grenoble, the leading player in export markets
Growing walnuts is a long tradition in southeast France. Grenoble walnuts are one of only a handful of French products awarded Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée status (AOC), together with their Périgord counterparts. The identified geographical area for growing walnuts from Grenoble covers 261 districts in three French departments, of which 184 are in Isère, 48 in the Drôme and 29 in Savoie, notably along the Isere Valley. The area boasts some 7,000 hectares of orchards. The Rhône-Alpes production area, which includes Grenoble walnuts, is mainly in Isère, followed by the Drôme with 2,200 hectares (Source: Agreste), and produces on average 18,000 tonnes of walnuts, of which some 12,000 tonnes are commercialised under the Noix de Grenoble appellation.
PDO status* – protected designation of origin – is one of three European Union schemes of geographical indication that promote and protect names of quality agricultural products and foods.
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