Modern processes of globalization and improvement of production and logistics processes stimulate the development of exotic product markets. For example, if earlier Brazil nuts were strictly a local commodity, now they are gaining popularity. The striving of the population towards healthy nutrition, along with doctors’ recommendations to include nutritious foods in the diet have been important factors in driving the growth of the Brazil nut market. Brazil nuts, valuable for their high content of selenium, are often recommended for a balanced diet.
According to the increasing demand for Brazil nuts, the market experienced a rise with an average annual growth rate of + 8.8% for the period from 2007 to 2014. The most notable increase was observed from 2008 to 2010, when the market increased almost twofold over three years, growing from 52 thousand tonnes in 2007 to 99 thousand tonnes in 2010. Since then, the market volume has not dipped below 90 thousand tonnes, but it has not shown rapid growth rates either.
Brazil nuts, also called Amazonian nuts, are named according to their area of origin, coinciding with the main growing regions. Therefore, according to market research conducted by IndexBox Marketing, 82% of Brazil nut production in 2014 was done by South American countries, namely, Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru. Bolivia takes a stable first place, with a 41.6% share of total production, while Brazil follows with a 35.4% share. It is remarkable that among the countries that produce Brazil nuts, West African countries have become more noticeable, in particular Cote d'Ivoire and the Gambia. Over the last 7 years, the combined share of these countries has increased by 5 percentage points in the global volume of Brazil nut production. This became possible due to more active growth rates of production. In Côte d'Ivoire, they amounted to + 6.8% from 2007 to 2014, and to + 34.6% in the Gambia for the period from 2011 to 2014. At the same time, the average annual growth rates of production in the leading countries were inferior, amounting to + 1.0% in Bolivia and + 3.4% in Brazil from 2007 to 2014.
Significant amounts of Brazil nuts are exported to foreign countries, which is natural for exotic products, as the main consumption centers are located outside the growing regions. In 2014, 21% of Brazil nut production volume was exported, which accounted for 22.7 thousand tonnes. Moreover, processed products are not included in this calculation, since in the producing countries (and intermediaries), nuts pass through certain stages of processing (peeling, drying, and packaging), before the kernels are exported. Imports and exports of Brazil nuts in shells and without shells are reviewed further.
Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, and the Gambia are the main producers of Brazil nuts as well as the key suppliers for exports. A remarkable amount of products is supplied from other countries that are not growing Brazil nuts, in this case, re-exports of products in processed or unprocessed form take place.
Bolivia is the largest producer of Brazil nuts in the world. It supplies products to the global markets in a processed form, without shell. In 2014, the volume of exports of processed products amounted to 23.6 thousand tonnes, which is equal to 60.8% of total peeled nut exports. In turn, the ratio of the product supplies from Brazil is the opposite, as this country mostly supplies nuts in shells, with exports standing at 7.1 thousand tonnes, which accounts for 31.2% of global unprocessed nut exports.
There is a tendency of reduction in export supply of both processed and unprocessed nuts from Brazil, with an increasing amount going to the domestic market. Also, a reduction in supplies of Brazil nuts with shells on the background of peeled nut supply growth should be noted. As a result, the share of peeled nuts in the domestic market is growing, and the volume of shelled nut exports is increasing.
As an imported product, peeled Brazil nuts are in the highest demand. In 2014, the global import volume of Brazil nuts in shell amounted to only 9.5 thousand tonnes, while the volume of shelled nuts accounted for 34.7 thousand tonnes. In terms of imports of shelled Brazil nuts, the U.S. takes first place (25%), followed by the UK (17%), Germany (17%), and the Netherlands (5%).
Just like exports, the imports of peeled nuts are growing too, with the average annual growth rates amounting to + 1.4% from 2007 to 2014. The highest average annual growth rates were observed in Germany (+ 14.0%), while the volumes of supplies in the two leading countries (the U.S. and the UK) were generally declining. The shares of other countries are growing, including new countries that participate in trade.
Imports of Brazil nuts with shells also have a wide geographic span, but economically developed countries are the key players. Peru is the exception, having imported 35% of global import volume of Brazil nuts with shell in 2014, for peeling and further nut kernel exports. Spain (13%) took second place in terms of unpeeled nut imports, followed by the U.S. (8%), Italy (7%), Qatar (7%), and the Netherlands (5%).
Brazil nuts, being an exotic product, have great prospects in the global market. Despite the temporary stagnation of the Brazil nut market, it is possible to note a number of positive aspects, contributing to its development. Among those are the increases in the share of shelling in the Brazil nut producing countries, diversification both in producing countries and importing countries, popularization of healthy nutrition among the population, and urbanization. Some of the constraints are the global crisis, political and economic phenomena in the world, hindered investments in the industry, and the purchasing power of the population.
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