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In the global fresh nut market, peanuts account for the lion’s share of sales. Euromonitor International’s fresh food data shows that in 2010 peanuts accounted for 69% of total fresh nut volume sales, amounting to 20.4 million tonnes.

And although peanuts’ overall global growth performance, when taken over the 2005-2010 review period, may seem a tad disappointing, it is evident from a number of country markets that the recession is benefiting this cheaply priced nut, which is technically a legume.

The statistics show that peanuts registered 13% volume growth over the five-year review period, which was notably weaker than that of almonds (39%), pistachios (20%), walnuts (49%) and nuts overall (19%). In 2009 and 2010, however, when the recession made its presence felt, peanuts performed in line with the 6% overall annual growth recorded by fresh nuts, while the more expensive almonds and pistachios only managed 3% and 2% growth, respectively, in either of these years.

India reliant on peanuts

The three biggest country markets for peanuts, as well as the biggest producers, are India, China and the US. India alone accounts for 52% of global volume consumption of fresh peanuts.

In 2009 and 2010, when rising food prices exerted even more pressure on an already economically challenged consumer base, peanuts achieved the highest volume growth of all nuts. India also sports the highest per capita consumption of fresh peanuts globally, standing at 6.3kg in 2010. For comparison, the US and China mustered just under half that.

Russia harbours much growth potential

Nuts overall enjoyed rapid growth in Russia over 1998-2008 due to very low base sales in the 1990s, the improving economic situation since 2000 and a gradual change in consumers’ eating and shopping habits.

In the 1990s, nuts positioned as snacks, primarily as an accompaniment to beer, were for the most part processed, which means salted, fried, coated, etc. Fresh nuts accounted for only a small percentage of sales and were used mainly for cooking and baking purposes. As disposable incomes started to rise, demand for fresh nuts increased.

Rising demand for fresh nuts was and continues to be strongly driven by the health and wellness trend. Russian consumers have become aware of the fact that nuts, which are high in vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fats, confer a number of health benefits, and that less processed offerings are superior in nutritional terms to those that are salted and/or fried.

Over the review period Russia’s fresh peanut volume consumption doubled from 15,400 tonnes in 2005 to 30,000 tonnes in 2010. In 2009, when the recession hit hard, peanut volume sales jumped by 30% as consumers substituted more expensive types of nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, for economically priced peanuts.

China, where incomes have been increasing steadily, creating an ever-expanding middle-class consumer base, is a good example of this. In 2010, peanuts accounted for 62% of fresh nut sales in China. At the beginning of the review period in 2005 this share was 71%, while back in 1998 peanuts accounted for 80% of total fresh nut sales.

Globally, Euromonitor International predicts that volume sales of fresh peanuts will increase from 14.1 million tonnes in 2010 to 18.6 million tonnes in 2015. Pakistan, India and the Czech Republic as well as several other Eastern European markets are expected to experience the most dynamic growth rates.

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