Tropical Nuts: Strong Demand in the United Kingdom

Article excerpt

The United Kingdom is a large and dynamic market for most types of edible nuts, particularly those that are of special interest to developing countries -- Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, macadamia nuts and peanuts (hand-picked, selected groundnuts). Its total import volume for all types of edible nuts increased by 10 % between 1988 and 1992 to reach close to 170,000 tons, with 120,000 tons of this accounted for by peanuts and 50,000 tons by tree nuts. During the same period the value of these imports increased by 15%, reaching [pounds]152 million in 1992.

The general economic slowdown has not affected nut consumption to any great extent. Extensive advertising and promotion by several parties, in particular the largest snack producer and the American Peanut Council, have helped keep sales buoyant in this market, as has innovative product development. The growing awareness among consumers that nuts are a nutritious alternative to many other types of food has made nuts a popular addition to diets.

In spite of price increases for several types of nuts during 1993, consumption and hence imports are expected to rise. Developing countries supplying edible nuts should therefore find increased marketing opportunities, but they will have to face strong international competition, particularly from high-quality producers in the European Community (EC) and the United States.

Imports

As production of edible nuts is negligible in the United Kingdom, demand is covered entirely by imports. The country is the sixth largest import market in the world for edible tree nuts after Germany, the United States, Japan, France and Italy. Total imports of fresh and dried tree nuts reached $148.4 million in 1992. Almonds were in the lead, accounting for $40 million in imports, followed by cashews ($27 million), hazelnuts ($12 million) and Brazil nuts ($8 million). Other nuts include pistachios, imports of which have risen rapidly. Pistachios are now the second most popular tree nut in this market. The United Kingdom is also the world's ninth largest importer of roasted nuts. Imports in this form increased from $14.9 million in 1988 to $24.6 million in 1992.

Imports of raw edible hand-picked, selected (HPS) groundnuts (peanuts) in shelled form rose from 104,637 tons in 1988 to 115,507 tons in 1992. The United Kingdom and the Netherlands are the largest world importers of this product. By far the leading nut consumed is the U.K. market is the peanut, mainly roasted and salted, but also in a number of other presentations such as honey-roasted and yoghurt-coated. It is estimated that peanuts account for over three-fourths of all the nuts sold in the snack market.

Imports of peanuts rose by 10% in volume and over 15% in value between 1988 and 1992. During the same period total imports of tree nuts remained more or less constant, at around 50,000 tons, with value increasing by nearly 13%. Approximately 95% of imports were raw nuts, with the balance in processed form.

The leading source of imports of raw tree nuts is the United States, which exports mainly "temperate nuts." It supplies almost 90% of U.K. imports of groundnuts, almonds and walnuts, and also some pistachios, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts. The second and third main sources of supply to the United Kingdom have been India (for cashew nuts) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (pistachios), followed by Turkey (hazelnuts).

Best prospects

Opportunities for developing countries will probably be most attractive for the following nuts:

* Peanuts (HPS groundnuts). The U.K. market, which is already the largest net importer of these nuts in the world, will probably continue to expand because of the innovative and effective support by the main snack producers and the successful introduction of peanut butter.

As quality requirements are tightening, however, developing countries will be faced with increasingly stiff competition from efficient producers of peanuts in the United States. …

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