California celebrates record almond shipments

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Almonds, Carcinogen

Total shipments of California almonds were up 18 per cent in 2007/8 compared to the previous year, according to the Almond Board of California, which takes these stats as a sign of the nuts’ ongoing popularity worldwide.

The board says total worldwide shipments for the harvest year amounted to 1.26bn pounds. The harvest for the year was 1.38bn pounds, 24 per cent up on the year before.

Fifty-four per cent of the last year’s exports made their way to Western Europe, with Spain and Germany cited as the top two destinations.

According to data from Mintel’s Global New Products Database, cited by the board, almonds were used in 22 per cent of new nut-containing products in 2007; almond-containing new product launches increased by 26 per cent on the previous year.

Almonds have been proving popular in a broad range of food products, including cereals, snacks, confections and desserts. In the Asian market (particularly China, Japan and India), which accounted for 23 per cent of exports in 2007/8, almonds are most commonly used in confectionery products.

Positive predictions

There are indications that the soaring demand for almonds will be met with increasing supply in the 2008/9 harvest year. The Almond Board of California said recently that next year’s crop objective is 1.5bn pounds, based on 660,000 bearing acres.

Testing eases exports

Earlier this week a report from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service proposed that the Voluntary Aflatoxin Sampling Plan (VASP) for US almonds has had a positive effect on US exports, particularly to Italy.

Aflatoxins are naturally formed by the fungus Aspergillus flavus on foodstuffs, particularly nuts and dried fruit, and have been shown to be carcinogenic in animals. Aflatoxin B1, the most toxic, is classified as both a human carcinogen and mutagenic.

The VASP provides the US almond industry with a sampling plan for aflatoxin that has an equivalent sensitivity to that currently being used in the EU.

Italy imports on average about 20,000 tons of US almonds per year, valued at about $100 million, due to strong demand from the local confectionery industry.

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