Megatrends in the global nut industry
Global demand for nut categories such as macadamia continues to grow faster than supply, while hazelnuts and peanut consumption might see another boost due to breakthroughs in allergy treatment.
Worldwide, the macadamia industry is set to double its output within 10 years, a rare event in agriculture. The almond industry has registered frequent new production records, while hazelnut production is spreading to new production areas to meet growing demand.
Oversupply will not be an issue for many years to come, as population growth and consumption trends in favour of plant-based protein are likely to boost demand for nuts.
There are many reasons for optimism, but some concerns are also on the horizon.
Nuts should replace meat and dairy cheese at an even faster rate in the coming years. While meat from maggots might not be for everyone, a ‘nut burger’ made with sunflower seeds, cashews, fresh herbs and spices is a tasty and culturally acceptable meat replacement.
Modern consumers adapt to new diets and crops they have never heard of before in a very short time. And once they start enjoying alternative tastes that work well in a burger or on a barbecue, they will no longer ask for the ‘real deal’.
Cheese made from nuts has nearly unlimited potential. The global cheese market is worth US$60 billion [about R906 billion], and just a 1% market share would be a phenomenal boost for the nut industry.
The technical process of making cheese from nuts appears to have been perfected and ready for big industrial production. Once the consumer has adapted to the slightly different flavours, there will be no going back.
Climate and sustainability
Agriculture is one of the few sectors of human culture where people think beyond elections, and even generations.
The nut industry is well placed to serve as an example for good practice in agriculture, as the margins are high, and the industry has the means to invest in sustainability, at least in certain areas. However, avoiding fossil fuels in farming is easier said than done.
There are currently no real alternatives to fossil-fuelled farm machinery; this has to change and more incentives are needed to bring about a switch, as the pressure on the sector will grow exponentially in the coming years.
It is no secret that water efficiency in orchards across the globe has plenty of room for improvement.
Click here to visit Farmer's Weekly for the full report