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  • Strong growth of nut sector worldwide

    Jan 26th, 2017

    The global production and consumption of nuts has increased in recent years, mainly in the case of almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and pistachios, with almonds being the most important. In 2015, Spain ranked ninth as a nut producer (behind the United States, Turkey and Iran), standing third in the ranking for almonds and sixth for hazelnuts.The following data on foreign trade in this sector were supplied on 29 November 2016 by Estacom - ICEX.

    Spain's trade balance in the nut sector is characterised by a trade deficit or negative balance, as the value of imports is greater than the value of exports, and the majority of these imports are processed and returned to foreign markets.It should not be forgotten that, although nuts are frequently consumed directly, they are mostly intended for the processing industry. Thus, according to Alimentación en España 2016, edited by Mercasa, "the nougat, marzipan, pastry and bakery industries absorb about 40,000 tons of almonds every year, 70% of which are imported, although the premium quality nougat and marzipan still use domestic almonds, basically of the Marcona variety." Another large share of the production is used for the manufacture of snacks.

    In spite of the trade deficit, the value of the sector's exports in 2015 increased by 43.3% and reached 1,028 million Euro, compared to 718 million in 2014, while in terms of volume there was an increase of 18.1%, with 144,479 tons shipped. Imports also increased compared to 2014, as 219,037 tons of nuts (+7.9%) worth 1,200.9 million Euro were purchased. The trade balance was unfavourable for Spain, with a deficit that grew by more than 15%, because it went from 149.14 million Euro in 2014 to 172.24 million in 2015.

    The average prices of exports and imports also increased. The former rose by 21.3% and reached 7.12 Euro per kilo, while the latter became 28.3% higher and stood at 5.48 Euro per kilo. The production of nuts relies very much on the weather, mainly on the frosts during the flowering and fruit setting periods. Such factors can lead to strong oscillations in the price and in the export-import volumes.

    In the first eight months of 2016, nut exports, compared to the same period of the previous year, fell by 13.8% in value and by 11.7% in volume, amounting to 500 million Euro and 67,937 tons. Meanwhile, the average export price dropped by 2.3%.As for imports, they grew in volume by 16.7%, reaching 170,478 tons, (24,442 tons more than in the previous period), although they were bought at a lower price; 4.68 Euro per kilo (-15.5%), compared to 5.53 Euro per kilo in the same period of the previous year. This is the reason why the total value of imports dropped by 1.4%, despite the increase in volume. Comparing January-August 2016 with the average of the last three years (January-August 2013-2015), both exports and imports are above the average for the period.

    During the period at hand, the European countries were the main destination in terms of value, with a market share of 82.6%, with Germany (19.4%), France (18.4%) and Italy (12.7%) at the top, followed by the United Kingdom (8%) and, in fifth place, the United States (7.8%).When looking at European countries, the value of exports increased in the United Kingdom (11.2%), Sweden (19.1%), Portugal (3.3%), Poland (2%) and Switzerland (3.6%). Exports to third countries also grew in the United States (1.7%), Canada (38.7%) and Australia (62.2%), although the latter two destinations are hardly representative, with a 0.7 and 0.5% share, respectively.

    51.5% of the volume of imported nuts comes from the United States, of which Spain bought 87,828 tons worth 536.3 million Euro (67.3% of the total share). Next in the ranking are Portugal, with 12.5% of the volume and 2.8% of the value, China (11.5% of volume and 4.2% of value), Argentina (4.8% and 1.3%), Germany (2.8% and 4.2%) and Australia (2.5% and 2.9%), among others.

    Almonds and hazelnuts

    In 2015, the export and import volumes of these two products were very similar. A total of 90,222 tons worth 799.51 million Euro were exported, while imports amounted to 93.607 tons worth 731.10 million Euro. Both exports and imports recorded growth, although exports did so at a faster rate, growing by 61.7% in value and 30.1% in volume compared to the previous year.During the period from January to August 2016, exports were reduced by 17.9% in value and 16.1% in volume compared to the same period of 2015, while imports increased by 3.2% in value and 22% in volume, amounting to 515.79 million Euro and 79,938 tons. These figures ​​are above the average of the past three years.At EU level, during the period at hand, almonds and hazelnuts worth 309.4 million Euro were sold, accounting for 84% of the value exported. Germany was the main destination, with 23% of the export value, followed by France (16.3%), Italy (15%) and the United Kingdom (8.1%).

    Among non-EU countries, the main destinations for Spanish almonds and hazelnuts were the United States and Switzerland, which accounted for 8.8 and 2.6% of the exported value. In terms of value, exports to Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Canada, Denmark and Australia are all on the rise.As for imports, the United States accounts for 90.5% of the total value, an increase of 7.4% compared to the same period of 2015. Next in the ranking is Australia, with a market share of 4.4 percent and a decline in the value of imports of 34.1 percent (it should be recalled that Australia, because of its geographical location, produces and markets its crop at a different time than the Northern Hemisphere), followed by Turkey (1.2%) and Georgia (0.8%).