Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44California League of Food Processors 7 “Buyers want more traceability back to the farm, so we needed to pull them (the growers) into the system,” Zion said. “We are food sellers and no longer tree processors.” WHO’S BUYING WHAT? Sixty percent of California’s tree nuts are exported. Meridian’s products are exported to a wide variety of countries for an array of uses. China is a big market and also the European Union. The company also does quite a bit of business in Central and South America and other markets include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, Korea, India and Israel. Nuts are exported both for direct consumption and for processing ingredients, which can vary by country. For example China has historically imported nuts for consumption and very little for ingredients. Zion has seen the usage of nuts in these countries change over the years. “Almonds are used for both direct consumption and processing ingredients,”Zion said.“Pistachios were primarily exported for use in the shell for snacking, and walnuts for ingredients, however that is changing. For example, usage of pistachios for processing is expanding.” Meridian takes a proactive approach to helping companies find new uses for nuts and the other products it exports. “We are grower based and are always looking to expand demand for products,”he said.“We ask why not have an item in a product?" In fact, Meridian sees export growth markets now not so much in terms of new countries as markets, but in the existing country markets by expanding their use of nuts, not only as ingredients but by increasing consumption overall. This is being accomplished through messaging, including promoting the health aspects of nuts and as a portable, alternative protein source. THE IMPORTANCE TRADE AGREEMENTS Zion sits on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Fruits and Vegetables to which he was appointed last year. He said trade agreements “are a big deal”and are vital for California growers and food processors.“We live and die by trade and they have become vital tools for us.”Also, any potential“trade spats”often have more of a negative effect on specialty crops, such as nuts in California, compared to larger crops in the Midwest such as wheat or corn. He says specialty crops often“get sacrificed,” although Zion doesn’t really like the term specialty crops, contending that specialty crops are mainstream. The trade agreement in the forefront in recent years is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which both 2016 presidential candidates have publicly not supported. Looking forward Meridian Growers is the exclusive marketer for the Horizon Growers brand, whose pistachios are processed and shipped from the Horizon Nut Company, a CLFP member. “Trade agreements “are a big deal” and are vital for California growers and food processors.”