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15 May 2019

Nuts, your partners in healthy eating

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The growing trend in healthy eating habits is helping to boost the nuts sector. Taking care of what we eat is becoming more and more important to Spaniards and this is reflected in the current expansion of this product category. Nuts are rich in fibre, have healthy fats and phytonutrients, among other properties which benefit our health.

Meanwhile, supermarkets and hypermarkets are expanding their offerings in response to growing consumer demand. According to data from the IRI consultancy, this category has grown at a double digit rate in recent years. Specifically, at the end of August 2018, the volume of products sold in retail stood at 95,750 metric tons for a turnover of €782.6 million, representing an increase of 10.2% in volume and 11.9% in value.And according to recent data from Informa’s DBK Sectoral Observatory, in 2018 the nut segment increased its turnover by 5% to €950 million. Meanwhile, exports and imports of products both decreased by around 8%. It should be noted that, although its participation went down, the European Union continues to be the main destination for exports, absorbing 84% of the total.

In the future, also according to DBK, the market is expected to experience a mild slowdown in the 2019-2020 two-year period, increasing at an annual rate of 2-3%.

Any time is a good time to eat them

As well as the perception that these products are a healthy food, the tendency to eat them between meals and outside the home are also encouraging their sales.

In terms of product, for IRI, the greatest advances were registered by almonds, pistachios and walnuts, in addition to "cocktail" mixtures that include dried fruit. This last segment notably increased its figures in 2018, in the retail channel ( 12.3% in volume and 26% in value), data showing that the "informal food" concept is gaining market traction and that time periods when nuts are consumed are increasing.

Therefore, operator efforts to expand their business volume in this sector have focused mainly on products adapted to new lifestyles. Thus, nuts are presented as a healthy alternative to snacking or as a complement to meals. Their natural qualities are also highlighted on the packaging itself.

In relation to all this, manufacturers have opted for single-dose packaging of their latest products, which are also available in vending machines. Aperitivos Medina has presented 'Nuts time', a range designed to cover every snacking opportunity in the day, in 25 gramme packets, with the 'Good morning' , 'Good working day' , 'Good studying day' , 'Good training pro’ and ‘Good sofa pause’ varieties, all containing various nuts and dried fruit and even chocolate chips in some varieties. For its part, Borges presented 'Borges Eco Natura', a range of 30-gram portions of nuts, which the company presents as the "ideal complement for healthy snacking between hours". Likewise, Importaco Food Service did the same with its 'Itac on the go' range made up of fried almonds, fried corn (maize), pistachios, coated mix snacks, crunchy mix and the exotic mix, with chocolate.

Ecological claim

The ecological and natural theme inherent in natural nuts is also maintained as the cornerstone of innovation in companies’ products, thus reinforcing their brands by providing added value. Thus, for example, the Tostados de Calidad company launched a new line of organic nuts: 'Buenola'. Nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds and cashews make up this range, which is also available in individual packages of 90, 100 and 120 grams, depending on the reference. Also, Aperitivos Medina presented 'Crudos', a launch that included seven varieties of nuts, which were neither salted, toasted or fried. Of these, four are single-products, designed as a healthy snack between meals: walnuts, raw almonds, cashews and peeled pumpkin seeds. The other three, in a mixed format, are intended to accompany salads and comprise a combination of nuts and fruit (raisins or blueberries) and seeds (peeled sunflower and pumpkin seeds).

It should also be noted that the momentum of the ecological movement is translating into an increase in the agricultural area set aside for this segment, where nuts take second place as far as plantations are concerned, behind olive groves. In this sense, according to the ecological production report from MAPA, organic farming maintained its upward path in 2017 with a total of 528,504 cultivated hectares, of which 27.81% are dedicated to the production of nuts, 29% more than those cultivated in 2015.

Almaco del Guadalquivir is one of these companies that has opted for sustainable cultivation with a project in which it has invested €18 million on the exploitation of 315 hectares of walnut trees (with the Howard and Chandler varieties), 28 of them dedicated to pecans. The company began the harvest of its first crop in October 2018, collecting 50 metric tons of product, which it sells under the 'Nueces de Colonge' and 'Nueces del Guadalquivir' brands.

Finally, Borges is also focusing its medium-term plans on expanding its sustainable agriculture plantations. Recently, it announced an investment of €5 million in Portugal for the cultivation of almonds, the acquisition of trees, facilities and machinery. The firm, which is a leader in the nut market, has developed more than 1,000 hectares of almonds.

Source: Alimarket Gran Consumo