Georgian nuts saturate European markets

Georgian Non Timber Forest Products are recognised as one of the promising fields of Georgian agricultural sector. Photo by N. Alavidze/, 18 Aug 2015 - 14:58, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian nuts are invading the European market and are fast becoming the country’s main agricultural export product.

The country’s nut exports to Italy increased 321 percent in January-June 2015 compared to the same period of 2014, while exports to Germany rose 143 percent and to Great Britain by 98 percent in the same time, according to latest figures provided by Geostat, the country’s national statistics office.

To bolster the country’s nut production, Georgia’s Agriculture Ministry has launched a dedicated nut sector development programme which aimed to grow the production of nuts in Georgia while simultaneously decreasing the cost price of nuts and increasing export possibilities.

Those who want to get involved in the project should have a 500-member strong nut cooperative in Zugdidi municipality and own at least 500 ha of nut gardens.

The first farming cooperative of 500 members will soon be established in Samegrelo and the Government promised to co-fund construction of a nut drying plant. An agricultural cooperative has also started in Kakheti region where farmers are uniting to become more influential nut suppliers in the local and international market. This gives farmers more opportunity to sell their products for a higher price.

The first nut plantations appeared in Kakheti only seven years ago when Russia enforced an embargo on Georgian wine and the Kakheti population had to find an alternative product to export.

The Government of Georgia has been a strong supporter of developing the country’s nut production sector, particularly by introducing VAT free taxation. This has allowed the price of Georgian nuts in the global market to become more competitive.

The cost of nuts is increasing worldwide because of higher demand. In recent years the average price per kilogram of shelled nuts was four GEL while in 2014 this price had increased to eight-nine GEL as a result of international market trends. Last year Turkey, the world leading nut exporter, lost half of its harvest due to freezing weather so the global price of nuts increased and turned into a beneficial situation for Georgian entrepreneurs.

Last year Georgia's export volume of nuts exceeded the export volume of wine for the first time, meaning nuts became Georgia’s main agricultural export product, stated the country's Agricultural Ministry.