Nutfruit Magazine

The official voice of the INC

16 November, 2021 Feature Articles

Looking Towards the Future of Nuts and Dried Fruits, Exclusive Insights from the INC Executive Committee

Looking Towards the Future of Nuts and Dried Fruits, Exclusive Insights from the INC Executive Committee

Since the global pandemic started, there have been a wide array of challenges facing the sector, however, the future of the industry still looks positive and the positioning of nuts and dried fruits remains strong. The INC Executive Committee held a webinar to provide exclusive insights into the outlook for the industry.

Economic, social, and environmental challenges have been exacerbated in every sector throughout 2020 and 2021. Up and down the entire supply chain, these newly presented problems have forced the food industry to rethink its daily operations, reach consumers through new means, and reevaluate its strategy. Although the global pandemic has exposed weak points of the global food system, there still remains reason for optimism, especially when looking at the nut and dried fruit industry. In September 2021, the INC Executive Committee came together to present a webinar designed to discuss the most pressing and important topics facing the nut and dried fruit sector.

Global Demand and the Lingering Impact of COVID-19

Through the rollercoaster ups and downs of COVID-19, the demand for nuts and dried fruits has been resilient. Thanks to the healthy positioning of nuts and dried fruits and the increase in health-conscious consumers, as a result of the pandemic, certain areas like retail, snacking, and ingredient have experienced strong demand. During the webinar, Mark Mariani, the Executive Chairman for Mariani Packing Company in the US shared that the pandemic has certainly introduced new consumers to dried fruits and that in general, North American markets, but also global markets were experiencing strong demand, especially for dried fruits.

Considering other regions of the world, Managing Partner of Vijayalaxmi Cashew Company in India, Pratap Nair pointed out that India, which faced some of the strictest lockdowns, is now improving and he believes demand for nuts and dried fruits will remain solid. Mr. Nair pointed to an aggressive vaccination campaign and government stimulus as part of the reason India is “learning to live with COVID.” Antonio Pont, INC Honorary President, and Honorary President of Borges in Spain commented on the psychological effect and the shift toward more health-based foods as a positive sign for consumption of nuts and dried fruits in Europe, but also throughout the world. Given the increased consumption throughout the pandemic, and looking towards the coming months, Mr. Pont said he expected these new trends to stay.

Sustainability in the Nut and Dried Fruit Industry

One topic that continues to gain traction across the entire food industry is sustainability. Not only are consumers more health-conscious with their food selections, but more and more are considering other factors when choosing food, like environment, traceability, and human rights, among others.

With this in mind, there is a growing necessity for the nut and dried fruit industry to promote and support sustainable activities within the sector. Bill Carriere, President/CEO of Carriere Family Farms in the US started the conversation on sustainability during the webinar; he discussed the state of the drought in California, and how it has impacted growers all over the state. According to Mr. Carriere, as of this past September, the California water reservoirs were at significantly lower levels compared to previous years. However, he highlighted that in California, the agricultural sector continues to face this issue head-on and proactive steps are being taken to ensure sustainable usage of water throughout the state.

Turning to Pino Calcagni, 2nd INC Vice Chairman and Honorary President of Besana Group, the discussion moved to a broader look at what steps the INC is taking with regards to sustainability. Mr. Calcagni announced the formation of a new Sustainability Working Group that will advise and oversee the good development of the INC Sustainability Agenda, and that will work to identify, promote, and support the Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the United Nations.

Later in the discussion, Ashok Krishen, 1st INC Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Edible Nuts at Olam Food Ingredients in Singapore, dove into some specific areas that the sector could impact. Among these areas were livelihoods, human rights and inclusion, health and nutrition, the living world, and greenhouse gas emission.

Supply and Shipping Outlook

The third major area of discussion in the webinar was a combination of supply and shipping. For supply, there is no doubt that growers have been faced with many challenges, but Jack Mariani, President of Mariani Nut Company in the US reported that various products across California had experienced record supply as well as shipping, demonstrating the strong position and resilience of nuts and dried fruits.

Global shipping has impaired the global economy significantly since the start of the pandemic, with the price of containers and shipping routes skyrocketing to around 300% higher than pre-pandemic. At the time of the writing of this article, some shipping companies announced that they did not plan on increasing rates further, providing some hope that the prices are set to decrease.

Despite these breaks, prices still have remained significantly higher than pre-pandemic times. The elevated prices have also been accompanied with record delays and waiting times for container ships at some of the world´s largest ports, such as the Port of Los Angeles. Giles Hacking, Managing Director of CG Hacking and Sons Limited in the UK pointed out during the webinar that the logistic problems are not only coming from inflation on containers but also massive labor shortages across the globe. As fewer and fewer workers are available for transport and unloading in warehouses, the wait times may continue to build, causing disruption of the supply chain just ahead of and into the holiday season.

Rounding up the webinar, Michael Waring, the INC Chairman gave a brief overview of the topics discussed, mentioning that as an industry, we must work together to ensure that nuts and dried fruits can reach consumers and that consumers understand the importance of their health benefits.

He also brought up the importance of investing in sustainability within the sector, saying, “at this point, we know that we need to continue to invest our time and our efforts in sustainability and working on these questions that are put to us as an industry”.

Considering shipping and looking to the future, Mr. Waring reminded that while it is difficult to know where things might go over the coming months, with time, we can hope to see this situation return to a sense of normalcy.

If you would like to watch the on-demand version of the webinar, you can visit the Member Area of the INC Website. For more information on this webinar series, please visit the INC website.
Cookies Policy

This site may use some cookies to enhance user experience. Please, accept it before navigate in our website. We recommend you to read the cookies policy .