The International Nut and Dried
Fruit Council (INC) celebrates, from today until Wednesday, and for the first
time in San Diego, the World Nut and Dried Fruit Congress. The INC Congress
represents the largest international gathering of food professionals,
suppliers, traders and buyers dedicated to the nuts and dried fruits business.
This year, the event reaches its 35th edition and returns to USA since it was
celebrated in Las Vegas on 2004. Today, more than 1,400 attendees from 60
countries have met at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego to participate in
the first day of the Congress, making it the largest event of nuts and dried
fruits in history.
The Congress has begun with the
opening speech offered by the INC Chairman, Mark Mariani, and the Congress
Co-Chairman, Jack Mariani, who welcomed participants to “three exciting days of
sessions” fully focused on the nuts and dried fruits industry.
The opening ceremony has served
to deliver the Award for Excellence in Gastronomy. Christopher Kostow, Executive
Chef of The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa, and winner of 3 Michelin stars,
has been recognized by his continued work and excellence in cuisine.
The first day of the World Nut
and Dried Fruit Congress has been featured by Steve Junqueiro, Co-President and
COO of Save Mart Supermarkets. Being invited as a keynote speaker, Junqueiro
has offered a conference focused on the future of American supermarkets. He has
outlined what is considered vital for customers today and tomorrow. Among these
points, Junqueiro has mentioned food transparency, convenience, connectivity,
emotional connection and local and sustainable supply. He stated that “62 % of
millennials feel that online content drives their loyalty to a brand” and added
that “emotionally connected customers are four times more likely to shop first
at their preferred retailer”.
Round tables: crop forecasts for 2016
Afterwards, attendees have had
the opportunity to participate in three round tables centered on dried fruits,
pistachios and almonds. Led by industry experts, these round tables have
provided participants with relevant and updated information about crop
forecasts for 2016. Mark Jansen, who chaired the almonds’ round table, claimed
that the industry has entered a positive period. “What we are anticipating is a
growing trend-line of around 5 to 6 % in terms of growth across all almonds
growing regions. And we look for worldwide demand growing to 5 – 6 % rates as
well”. “I would say –Mr. Jansen added- that what we are seeing in the near
future is a healthy equalization between supply and demand growth”.
In addition, Michael Hohmann,
chair of the pistachios’ round table, said that industry expects consumption to
increase next year, as consumers are looking for more and more snacks.
Over the course of the following
days, the INC Congress will host more round tables focused on hazelnuts,
macadamias, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pecans, pine nuts and Brazil nuts.
Until Wednesday, the INC Congress
will follow its scheduled program with different sessions. Tomorrow, Dr. Joel
Kimmelshue, from Land IQ, will participate in the Scientific Seminar focused on
statewide spatial mapping of almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and dried plums in
California and water resources. In addition, the Nutrition Research Update will
serve to review the latest scientific studies supporting the health benefits of
nuts and dried fruits. It will be featured by Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, Prof.
Salas-Salvadó and Dr. Cesarettin Alasalvar, distinguished experts in the field
of health and nutrition.
Finally, the Congress will
deliver its annual awards to those individuals and organizations that have
contributed to the progress of the nuts and dried fruits industry. Dr. Penny
Kris-Etherton will receive the Award for Excellence in Research while The
Wonderful Company will be given the Corporate Golden Nut Award. Moreover, Jack
Mariani will be recognized with the Individual Golden Nut Award.