Health, Convenience Drive Nut Market

<p>Nuts have become the snack food of choice as consumers increasingly favor their health benefits and convenience, according to a release from&nbsp;Innova Market Insights. </p>

DUIVEN, The Netherlands—Nuts have become the snack food of choice as consumers increasingly favor their health benefits and convenience, according to a release from Innova Market Insights. The nuts and seeds category accounted for more than 37% of snack food launches in 2013, with savory or salty snacks taking the remainder.

Nuts' share has grown over recent years, rising from less than 36% in the previous 12-month period and from just over 32% five years ago, Innova's data revealed. The share of nuts in the snack foods category varies markedly from country to country, and there are particularly high shares in Continental European markets, such as Spain, France and Germany, where nuts are traditionally eaten as a snack. Lower shares occur where there is a traditional dominance of potato chips, particularly the U.K. and the United States. This is also true to an extent in terms of product activity, with Western Europe seeing the highest penetration of nuts, equivalent to 40% of total snacks introductions. The United States sees a more modest 32%, which is well behind the global average.

“The packaged snack nuts market has seen mixed fortunes in recent years, with some difficult times in the market for standard salted peanuts and other commodity-style lines, but rising interest in value-added products, such as natural, flavored and premium lines, and branding," said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights.

Williams added that exotic nuts, such as Brazils, macadamias, pistachios and pecans, are used more frequently in the market to add value and interest, while nut mixes moved away from their "traditional reliance on seasonal sales." In addition, almonds took the title as no. 1 nut in new product launches during 2013.

Interest in health has also been a key driver in the market in recent years with the growing positioning of nuts as a healthy snack. Nuts are suitable for year-round consumption, both as an impulse snack and as a planned snack for sharing during in-home family and social occasions.

One-third of 2013 global launches were positioned on a health platform of some kind, rising to more than 60% in the United States. Naturalness was a key area of interest and led in terms of claims. Nut launches marketed as one or more of organic, natural or additive/preservative-free were featured on nearly 19% of total launches, while fiber, protein and low-sodium claims were used on nearly 6%, over 4% and just under 3% of launches, respectively.

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