The Amazon nut, also known as the ‘Brazil nut,’ season is set to start in January, with peak volumes becoming available from February through April, and the harvest wrapping up in October. While the volumes look to be much lower than they were in the 2020 season, the overall projection looks to be average. “This year’s season saw a very big crop, so it’s only natural that the coming season will see lower volumes than this year, but in general the volumes look to be good,” shares Byron Machuca of White Lion Foods.
Ups and downs in the 2020 season
This year’s Amazon nut season was quite volatile due to the pandemic, Byron shares. “As countries went into lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic, orders stopped because everyone was uncertain about what would happen. We saw some halts in South Korea in the early spring, and then in Russia in June. But, as e-commerce in each of these countries grew, the orders returned to normal after a few weeks. The temporary halts in orders forced us to look for new markets to allocate our volumes too, but that’s given us the opportunity to diversify more,” he says.
Fortunately, under good conditions, Amazon nuts can have a shelf-life of up to 24 months, so any delays caused by pandemic challenges did not damage the product. “As long as there is no direct sunlight going into the boxes and they are packed at room temperature, the shelf-life will be really long. So, when containers were stuck at ports, the product didn’t spoil,” Byron explains.
Pandemic dampens demand
In addition to halts in orders as countries went into lockdowns, the Brazil nut market was also unpredictable this year. “Many countries are seeing high unemployment rates because of the pandemic, and that means tighter consumer budgets. Nuts such as Amazon nuts, pistachios, and macadamias are all higher-priced, premium products, so they are not a priority for many shoppers right now. In addition to this, nuts are also a prime product at all airport shops, and with travel being restricted as much as it has been, that’s also had an effect on demand this year,” says Byron.
While the demand has been dampened by the pandemic, Byron shares that the health benefits of the Amazon nuts should make them a prime item for consumers who are becoming more health conscious. “Amazon nuts have high levels of selenium and are extraordinarily rich in minerals; it’s truly the original superfood. Unfortunately, these benefits are largely unknown by the consumer. That is why one of our goals for 2021 is to educate the consumers on the benefits of the Amazon nuts,” he says.
New technology and partnerships
The Peruvian government has been working to expand the country’s Amazon nut industry, Byron shares. “We have been working with the Peruvian Ministry of Production and it’s Innovation branch to strengthen the Amazon nut value chain in the Peruvian Amazon region. We formed an agenda of innovation, with various projects that can be implemented in all sectors of the Amazon nut value chain," Byron explains.
Right: Logo Innovate.
"One of the innovation projects that the Peruvian Ministry agreed to implement with White Lion Foods was the acquisition and installation of an UV machine that works to sterilize the Amazon nuts. This technology is an innovation for the Peruvian Amazon nut industry, and we have been a part of the project since 2016 to introduce it to our production facility. We were able to find a reliable supplier and purchase the machine in 2019 and have started using it in the 2020 season. With everything that happened with the pandemic, it was perfect timing to start using additional sterilization technologies on our products, so we’re very happy that we invested in this,” Byron concludes.