Although the California Walnut Board and Commission’s first-ever industry conference will be held virtually next month, the event will still provide walnut growers with plenty of valuable information — just from a distance.
The CWB & CWC Industry Conference will span two half days during the first week of March, providing a virtual experience which will include speaking sessions and panels for growers, handlers and industry partners, various educational discussions and informational sessions with top speakers and panelists. According to CWB/CWC marketing director Jennifer Williams, the board and commission are funded by walnut growers and handlers and the upcoming virtual conference helps them learn how their dollars are spent.
“These are their funds and we want them to be assured that we’re making the best use of their money possible by highlighting the things we do,” Williams said. “I think everyone wants to know that their money is working hard for them, and as times have gotten a little leaner this year it’s more important than ever that we’re being as effective as possible with what we’re given and doing everything we possibly can to help the growers.”
Williams said that the CWB/CWC has growers from Redding to Tulare. In the most recent Stanislaus County crop report, which shows data from 2019, walnuts were the seventh-ranked commodity in the county with a value of $122,549,000. While various walnut industry sectors were impacted in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic, others saw sales pick up. Retail sales increased last year thanks to people staying at home, Williams said, which caused a boost in home baking and cooking sales.
“We took advantage where we could,” Williams said, noting that the CWB/CWC pivoted to promoting banana bread recipes and hosting online webinars. “We found the silver lining, so to speak.”
This was just one of many ways the board and commission have helped growers and handlers during the pandemic and in years past, and Williams hopes that those involved in the California walnut industry will attend the conference in order to glean information about the organization. Attendees can learn about food safety, trade and marketing data, and CWB/CWC Executive Director and CEO Michelle Connelly will deliver a state of the industry address.
Williams said the CWB/CWC was inspired to host a virtual conference after missing out on other various events last year which, in a normal year, provide the organization with a means to connect with growers. Although this first-ever event is being held online, Williams believes the virtual connection will allow even more stakeholders to become informed.
“We have a desire to really connect with our growers and tell our story,” she said. “Holding a conference in one central location isn’t always beneficial for everyone. This makes it easy for everyone across the entire state to attend...it’s much more convenient for our growers.”
The CWB & CWC Industry Conference will be held from 8 a.m. to noon on March 2-3. For registration details, visit https://citrix.webcasts.com/viewer/portal.jsp?ei=1421137&tp_key=2f1efa469e.