Strong growth forecast for nuts and dried fruits
The worse the rap on processed foods, especially processed snacks, the better it is turning out for the nuts and dried fruits categories.
With changing consumer lifestyles, plus a strong demand for clean label and healthier snacks, the nuts and dried fruits segments are getting much more attention from both consumers and retailers. The result is a steady and strong uptick in sales growth, with many industry experts predicting that volume will continue to grow at strong rates for the foreseeable future.
The best news for both of these categories, which combined account for more than $18 billion in annual sales in the United States, is that all the talk amongst nutritionists is the need for people of all ages to limit their intake of processed foods to live a healthier lifestyle.
With consumers paying more and more attention, retailers are eager to stock their shelves with a greater assortment of nuts and dried fruits, offering a wide variety of tastes and flavors, as well as experimenting with all types of trail mixes, to bring more shoppers into their stores for these items. In fact, once the nearly exclusive domain of natural health stores, nuts and dried fruits are turning up in individual and trail mix packaged and bulk forms in many traditional supermarket chains and even at drug stores and convenience stores.
No one should expect this trend to slow down any time soon. With more varieties entering the marketplace, dollar sales of nuts are expected to grow by about 3.2 percent to about $10.4 billion in the U.S. this year, according to Statista and some industry sources say that nut sales could increase by more than 4 percent annually over the next decade.
Dried fruit sales are increasing even faster as manufacturers unveil more flavors and offer clean label and low-sugar alternatives at traditional retailers to encourage more usage by consumers, especially moms looking to give their children healthy and tasty snacking alternatives.
SkyQuest Technology Consulting projects that by 2030, less than seven years from now, the dried fruits market will increase to nearly $9.5 billion in this country and annual growth will average more than 4 percent. “The heightened awareness of the importance of a balanced diet has increased demand for dried fruit, recognized for its inherent nutritional value,” the company said in a report issued this year. “As health consciousness becomes increasingly ingrained in consumer behaviors, a discernable shift has shifted away from processed foods.”
Suppliers and processors are reacting quickly. In the nut category, many are adding all types of flavors and healthier salts to their products, particularly almonds, pistachios cashews and macadamia nuts, to draw more consumer attention. Some are also adding spices as another way to draw more customers to their products.
The dried fruit market is a bit more complex. Once primarily focused on raisins, dates and prunes, now many suppliers have essentially taken nearly every fruit possible and turned them into a dried fruit alternative. Now, some of the more aggressive ones are focusing in on low-sugar varieties as consumers look for more clean-label options.
Interestingly, the trail mix segment, which often combine nuts and dried fruits, may actually be the key to the future growth of the category, industry observers say.
Suppliers are constantly testing new recipes and mixes to encourage consumer trial and they say this approach is working to bring new people into the market.