During the debate sessions held at the latest INC Congress, recently celebrated in Chennai, India, the 2017/18 season world tree nut production (almonds, Amazonia -Brazil- nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts) has been forecast at 4.2 million metric tons, up 25% from prior 10 years average (data referring to figures on a kernel basis, except for pistachios, which are in in-shell basis). This early estimation is a bellwether that the crops’ consistent growth trajectory observed during the last decade is likely to continue.
Taking into account that is very early in the season to have accurate estimations, hazelnuts (kernel basis) are foreseen to experience the biggest increment, raised by 20% up to 475,000 MT, with Turkey producing 70% of the world share (the Turkish industry will be able to give a more precise figure in July). Conversely, Brazil nut global production (kernel basis) is expected to plunge at least 46% compared to the previous year. Shortages of rainfall during last 2 years in the Amazon rainforest, where these wild nuts are collected from, would allegedly be the main cause of this dramatic decline that is anticipated to affect all the levels of the supply chain.
World peanut production in 2017/18 is expected to reach 42 million MT (in-shell basis), up 2% from the 2016/17 season and raised by 16% from the previous 10 years average. It is calculated that China and India will keep leading production, accounting for 39% and 18% of the world total respectively.2017/18 total dried fruit (table dates, dried apricots, sweetened dried cranberries, dried figs, prunes, raisins, sultanas and currants) production has been forecasted to reach 3 million MT; a 20% growth over the prior 10 years average. As in the previous season, dried apricots are expected to register the greatest growth, 35% compared to 2016/17, adding up to 229,500 MT, with Turkey as the leading producer (63%). Sweetened dried cranberries are also foreseen to increase 10% amounting 200,300 MT, from which 79% will be produced by the USA.
Overall, nut and dried fruit production is foreseen to keep growing by the means of new planting areas worldwide: California and Spain almond bearing acres keep increasing, and Australia expects to have 15,000 additional hectares planted by 2018, according to the Almond Board of Australia. Hazelnut growing area is enlarging in Italy, Georgia and the USA; in the US by around 12,000 ha in 2017. Macadamia orchards are being regenerated in Australia and there are substantial new plantings in new areas. Plantations in South Africa expanded by about 3,500 additional ha in 2016 and China is also planning to reach over 333,000 ha by 2020. Pistachio acreage continues to grow 5-7% a year in California and in Turkey as well. Walnut bearing acreage has increased by 30% in the past 11 years and 10,000 new hectares of walnut are expected to be planted in the next 5 years in Chile. US peanut is estimated to raise in about 24,000 ha in 2017.
Consumption is also being bolstered through innovation in usage of nuts and dried fruits as ingredients, snacks or new developments such as sauces, beverages, oils and spreads.