Snack companies may label macadamia health benefits following FDA approval

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Royal Hawaiian' snacks portfolio currently accounts for 50% of its overall sales. Pic: Royal Hawaiian
Royal Hawaiian' snacks portfolio currently accounts for 50% of its overall sales. Pic: Royal Hawaiian

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The labeling of macadamia nuts’ health benefits, including reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, may appear on snack packaging having received FDA approval, said Royal Hawaiian Macadamia Nut. 

The macadamia nuts producer recently won the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval for labeling the health claim after the government organization spent two years reviewing the available scientific data.

“Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces per day of macadamia nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and not resulting in increased intake of saturated fat or calories, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease,”​ the FDA​ wrote on its website.

However, the FDA noted these claims “do not meet the more rigorous ‘significant scientific agreement’ standard required for an authorized FDA health claim. As such, they must be accompanied by a disclaimer or other qualifying language so the level of scientific evidence supporting the claim is accurately communicated.”

Royal Hawaiian is expected to update its packaging with the new health claim in 2018.

‘Significant’ to business

Scott Wallace, CEO of Royal Hawaiian Orchard (parent company of its macadamia nut division), told BakeryandSnacks the FDA’s decision is “significant​. The FDA’s approval will only accelerate our sales.

“[The consumption] of almonds have increased fourfold compared to 18 years ago, but other nut types remained flat until recently,”​ he said.

Wallace notedthe consumption of macadamia nuts are increasing around the world, especially in China, as consumers there are becoming more affluent and increasingly favoring macadamia nuts for their exoticness and nutritional benefits.

“We have just started to supply retailers in Taiwan [and now] we’re in discussion with a retailer in South Korea​. We’re getting some interest from retailers in China, too,” ​he said.

“Our first half year-over-year growth is close to 40%, but to some extent, it was driven by accelerated sales of bulk,”​ said Wallace.

"Our brand is growing rapidly, so the numbers of our annual growth rate is within the 50% range.”

Keeping up with demand

Wallace added the three major macadamia nuts growing regions - South Africa, Australia and Hawaii - have been hit by natural disasters recently, making it difficult for producers to keep up with the market demand.

“The business is growing, but we’re somewhat limited by our supply [due to natural disasters],”​ he said.

He said its own snacks portfolio - containing products like dar chocolate macadamias, and fruit and macadamia crunches - currently accounts for 50% of the company’s sales.

Royal Hawaiian also sells its nuts to a third-party provider that supplies roasted and chopped nuts to snack makers like Clif Bar.

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