Christmas consumers go crackers over nuts

By Catherine Boal

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nuts, Nut

Snacking at Christmas time usually conjures up images of luxury
chocolates, mince pies and gingerbread but, according to a major UK
retailer, this year the festive season will see a surge in nut
sales as they become the holiday snack of choice.

According to the UK food retailer Waitrose, nuts in shells have seen growth of 64 per cent year on year while overall nut sales have increased by 40 per cent from last year.

This new found seasonal popularity could be attributed to growing awareness among consumers of the product's healthy properties and a desire among shoppers to avoid the usual dietary pitfalls of the Christmas period.

Waitrose nutrition manager Moira Howie said: "Although previously avoided because of their high fat content, nuts are now hailed for their health-giving properties, and have earned themselves a place in the super-food category."

"In recent months customers have come to recognise that, when eaten in moderation, nuts have a huge array of health giving properties."

Nuts are rich in unsaturated 'good' fats as well as providing essential nutrients such as iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.

In addition, peanuts, cashews and walnuts are good sources of folic acid - deficiency of which is considered so widespread that some countries have enforced mandatory folic acid fortification of bread.

A snack report from analysts Mintel, published last month showed sales of Brazil nuts, walnuts and almonds have almost doubled in five years to £189m (€281.82m) and, in 2005, overtook peanut sales.

To capitalise on the popularity of Christmas nuts, Waitrose has routinely stocked Christmas Mixed Nut Kernel Mixes during December and said sales of the product had increased by 54 per cent this year.

Walnuts and almonds take the top two spots with the former showing sales up by 89 per cent year on year and the latter 59 per cent.

In October, UK snack maker Walkers got a jump on the Christmas market with the launch of Cranberry and Cashew Nut Mix with Festive Spices. Cashews nuts, according to Waitrose, have seen sales growth of 41 per cent year on year in 2006.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging, Ingredients

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