Plant-based eating boosts European walnut demand12 Jun 2018
The current trend toward plant-based diets and wholesome, natural ingredients has led to increased European demand for walnuts, as consumers have become more aware of their health benefits.
There is a wide gap between EU walnut production and consumption, and it is getting wider as European demand has increased, according to figures from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The European Union is a net importer of walnuts, and although local growers are gradually ramping up production, Californian growers in particular have benefitted from healthy snacking trends. European walnut imports increased nearly 19% from 2014 to 2016, the USDA says, and the United States is the region’s number one supplier.
“Plant-based eating is on the rise worldwide and Europe is one of the leaders of this trend,” said Pamela Graviet, senior marketing director at the California Walnut Commission. “People are choosing to have more fruits, nuts, grains and vegetables in their diet and walnuts provide a wide variety of nutrients. Most importantly, walnuts are the only tree nut with a significant source of omega-3 fatty acids that your body needs but can only get from food sources.”
Plant-based sources of omega-3 and protein are in particularly high demand, as more consumers adhere to a vegetarian or vegan diet. According to national surveys, the percentage of Europeans who identify as vegetarian or vegan has grown rapidly – by more than 400% in Portugal over the past 30 years, for example – but it varies widely between countries. Despite rapid growth, just 1.2% of Portuguese consumers are vegetarians, compared to about 14% in the UK and Switzerland. However, these figures only tell part of the story, as flexitarianism is also on the rise – giving a further boost to nutrient-rich vegetarian foods like walnuts.
“Another trend is clean eating,” Graviet said. “People want to know what’s in their food and are looking for wholesome, natural ingredients. Walnuts can be eaten raw straight out of the shell, but they can also be transformed in many ways to add flavour and texture to a variety of cuisines. They can be added to smoothies to add protein and healthy fats, they can be used as a meat substitute in dishes that use ground meat, and they can add texture to salads, sauces, vegetable dishes and desserts.”
Publicising the health benefits of walnuts is a big part of the California Walnut Commission’s role in Europe, including promoting their benefits for heart health and cholesterol management, which have been accepted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), as well as overseeing new health and nutrition research. The organisation represents the interests of more than 4,800 walnut growers – many of whom are multi-generational family farmers – and nearly 100 handlers across California’s Central Valley.
Many European food manufacturers have the option to buy locally grown walnuts too, but because of the mild climate, Californian walnuts grow year-round, providing consistent quality and reliable supply, while many locally grown varieties are only available at harvest time.
“Consistency is important in any type of food or beverage manufacturing, and reliable ingredient sources help to streamline process as well as add value to the final products,” Graviet said. “California walnuts meet those expectations.”
Exclusive: Fi Europe and Hi Europe enter a new chapter together
7 May 2019
Fi Europe, the leading trade show for food and beverage ingredients, and Hi Europe, its counterpart for health ingredients, will become co-located events, alternating between Germany and France.Read more
Stevia outpaces aspartame in new product launches
27 Nov 2018
The number of new stevia-sweetened foods and drinks overtook new products with aspartame in 2017, according to global data from Innova Market Insights.Read more
Nuts gain from awareness of healthy fats
19 Nov 2018
Demand for products containing nuts is on the rise, aided by ongoing research into their health benefits and growing consumer understanding of healthy fats.Read more
Cranberries show promise for improved gut health
19 Nov 2018
Researchers are just beginning to understand the link between the gut and many chronic health conditions, leading to growing interest in prebiotic ingredients. According to a new study, cranberries are the latest food to show prebiotic potential.Read more
Egg substitutes driven by vegan, allergen-free demand
13 Nov 2018
Egg replacers have long been used as a way to avoid to the price fluctuations often associated with real eggs, but recently interest has been driven by manufacturer demand for clean label and plant-based ingredients, allowing companies to make more veg...Read more
Whey protein on the rise across food categories
13 Nov 2018
Whey protein remains the most popular protein ingredient for athletes by far, but numerous whey protein ingredients have emerged over the past few years, in applications that take it well beyond sports nutrition.Read more
Could regulation tempt the industry to renew focus on low fat foods?
7 Nov 2018
The UK government aims to cut calories by 20% by 2024 in a range of popular foods, potentially shifting focus back onto foods’ fat content as companies strive to reach this target.Read more
Allergen-free foods gain momentum
5 Nov 2018
Launches of allergen-free foods have increased in recent years – and not just because of increased prevalence of food allergy.Read more
Enzyme technology slashes sugar in fruit juice
2 Nov 2018
Israeli researchers have developed a new technology to cut sugar by up to 80% in fruit juice, by using enzymes that boost the fibre content at the same time.Read more
What can blockchain do for the food industry?
1 Nov 2018
International food companies have started to embrace blockchain technology to help trace food and ingredients all along the supply chain. What are the potential benefits for the industry?Read more
Are you a supplier
Here's what we can do for you
- Generate quality leads for your business
- Stay visible for 365 days of the year
- Receive product inquiries and respond to meeting requests directly
- Improve company online presence through Search Engine Optimisation