Hazelnuts are Primed for an Upswing in Popularity

Hazelnuts might soon be playing a bigger role in food and beverages, according to a new survey reported by the Capital Press.  

Responses to a 2017 survey revealed 47% of people thought the nuts were “very healthy,” nearly twice the number from a year earlier.

Consumers responded that they ate more whole hazelnuts now, with 33% of consumers in 2006 saying they had hazelnuts once a month compared to 49% responding that way last year.  The survey also found that 82% of the respondents in the most recent survey said they wanted to try hazelnuts, according to the newspaper.

The survey found people do not view hazelnuts as being as expensive as some other nuts — macadamia nutspistachios and cashews were all perceived as costing more. As a result of their increasing profile, hazelnuts are gradually starting to appear in more SKUs, according to the survey, growing from 63 hazelnut products in 2013 to
93 in 2015

Hazelnuts enjoy a relatively high health score due to the irondietary fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats they contain. Similar to other tree nuts, they pack a lot of calories — 178 calories per ounce, according to Livestrong.com — but they also have 4 grams of protein, 5 grams of carbohydrates and 2.7 grams of dietary fiber in that same amount.

The survey identified the top hazelnut consumer as women 18 to 44 years of age, with higher incomescollege educations and children at home. This demographic tended to do more of the family shopping and also spent more per trip. In addition, these shoppers concentrated more on a store’s perimeter, which provides some guidance on how retailers might position their hazelnut products for greatest exposure.

Hazelnuts have traditionally been more popular in Europe and other countries than in the U.S.  However, Ferrero helped raise the nut’s profile in this country with its popular Nutella spread and its Ferrero Rocher chocolate candies featuring a roasted hazelnut in the center.

Potentially playing to the hazelnut’s advantage could be a growing “almond fatigue” due to that nut’s continued prominence in the market, plus concern over the relatively large amount of water it takes to grow them. Consumers also like to switch things up from time to time and appreciate varied and interesting new flavors in nuts and other snack products.

Manufacturers have taken notice of this trend and responded with hazelnut milkhazelnut spreadhazelnut-flavored coffee and chocolate bars with hazelnuts. Nestle has even debuted a hazelnut version of its Coffee-mate powdered coffee creamer.

Turkey produces 70% of the world’s supply, but since U.S. growers can ship their hazelnuts to East Coast manufacturers within a few days while Turkish suppliers need 45 to 60 days, the American product is better positioned for growth as the demand increases. With the Turkish crop prone to price volatility and production inefficiency, Ferrero is reportedly looking for a more reliable supply and is casting an eye toward Canada, Chile, Australia and the U.S.

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