Nut snacks boom in Europe - but less so in US and UK

Innova Market Insights
Friday, 21 March, 2014

Consumers are going nuts for nuts as convenient and healthy snacks. Advances in technology have boosted growth in the value-added category in particular.

Nuts and seeds accounted for more than 37% of snack food launches in 2013, with savoury or salty snacks taking the remainder, new data from Innova Market Insights shows. Nuts’ market share has risen from less than 36% in 2012 and from 32% five years ago.

The popularity of nuts as snack foods varies markedly from country to country. Nuts have particularly high shares in continental European markets such as Spain, France and Germany, where nuts are traditionally eaten as snacks. Lower shares occur where there is a traditional dominance of potato crisps, particularly in the UK and US.

This is also true of product activity: Western Europe sees the highest penetration of nut products, equivalent to 40% of total snacks introductions. The US 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, flavoured and premium lines, and branding,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights.

“Exotic nuts, such as Brazils, macadamias, pistachios and pecans, are increasingly being used to add value and interest in the market, while nut mixes have moved into whole new areas in terms of ingredients and away from their traditional reliance on seasonal sales.”

Ongoing interest in the health attributes of nuts resulted in one-third of global launches in 2013 being positioned on a health platform of some kind, rising to over 60% in the US. Nut launches marketed as one or more of organic, natural or additive- or preservative-free featured on nearly 19% of total launches, while fibre, protein and low sodium claims were also popular, used on 6%, 4% and 3% of launches respectively.

“While innovation opportunities have traditionally seemed more limited in nuts than in some other sectors of the snacks market, it would appear that this may no longer be the case,” said Williams.

“Technological improvements have allowed the development of much more complex and sophisticated flavours and coatings, and a range of more user-friendly packaging formats. These include resealable cardboard cans, plastic and aluminium pouches and plastic jars, as well as the more traditional flow-wrapped bags.”

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