OOHC Growing Demand for Organic Hazelnuts
Business Oregon has awarded The Oregon Organic Hazelnut Cooperative a $97,102 High Impact Opportunity Project grant to create the Organic Hazelnut Market Development Plan. The plan is a road map for growers, processors, and value added food and beverage manufacturers to fully realize the potential of Organic hazelnuts in Oregon.
The Willamette Valley is one of the best places in the world to grow hazelnuts. In fact, 99% of all American hazelnuts are grown in the Willamette Valley. No other specialty crop produced in Oregon comes close to capturing this high of a percentage of domestic production. Willamette Valley hazelnuts are well known across the world and sought out for their superior size, flavor and texture. Taylor Larson, Co-Founder of My Brothers Farm, and Vice President of OOHC sees this first hand. “It is exciting to see consumers embracing our products. We have folks coming up to us every week at the farmers market thanking us for growing such delicious nuts. They also often confide that they had not bought many hazelnuts in the past because they have had bland, stale hazelnuts out of a grocery store bulk bin.”
Yet, Organic hazelnuts still only make up less than 1% of domestic hazelnut production. Consumers and value added product manufacturers continue to seek more and more Organic ingredients including hazelnuts, but with such a small number of Organic hazelnuts produced in Oregon, many of these potential buyers are having to look to international markets to satisfy their needs. Oregon and its food producers are missing out on substantial business opportunities.
The Oregon Organic Hazelnut Cooperative is working with ECONorthwest and Season to Taste Consulting to grow Oregon’s understanding of the Organic hazelnut and its real market potential. The outcome of this work is a unified plan that farmers, processors, and manufacturers can use to strengthen their businesses and grow our state’s reputation for producing premium environmentally friendly specialty food products. Micah Elconin, President of Season to Taste Consulting presents a simple equation. “Oregon hazelnuts already have a strong brand both domestically and abroad. There’s immense opportunity to integrate the value of Organics into this story. The Market Development Plan provides all the necessary ingredients to begin the process.”
Combining economic analysis, specialty crop marketing best practices, and business development strategies, the plan ensures that stakeholders have a thorough understanding of market dynamics and how best to support continued growth of the Organic hazelnut industry.
The Oregon Organic Hazelnut Cooperative (OOHC) formed in early 2017 to explore opportunities to grow the Organic hazelnut industry in Oregon by strengthening crop management practices, improving Organic processing options, and increasing demand for Oregon Organic hazelnuts through collaborative marketing projects. The benefits of Organic hazelnut production are broad including higher price points for growers, eliminating exposure to toxic herbicides and pesticides for farm workers, and significant environmental benefits. Hazelnuts require less water and sequester more carbon than traditional annual crops. They also can help reduce soil erosion because the trees require no annual tillage.
For more information, contact Micah Elconin, President, Season to Taste, Inc. at email@example.com or 805-451-0289.