In a market where healthy ingredients are valued, food companies are always looking for a new superfood that they could use to differentiate their products from the rest. However, there may be a chance that the newest superfood is already a frequently used ingredient.
A 2017 survey reported by Capital Press revealed that 47 percent of consumers believe that hazelnuts are “very healthy,” which is a 23 percent increase from 2006. The majority of survey participants (88 percent) agreed that hazelnuts are very or somewhat healthy. About 82 percent of those who haven’t eaten hazelnuts before said that want to try them.
The growing popularity of the tree nut is result of its nutritional benefits. Commonly known for their heart health and muscle building benefits, hazelnuts are rich in magnesium, iron and vitamins B and C. They are also said to help with diabetes and memory loss.
Such qualities have helped this common tree nut enter the ingredient spotlight. Although hazelnuts are prominent in decadent desserts and treats, they are also appearing in whole-nut snack bags and protein bars. With its growing popularity in the heath food space, it is likely the nuts will be featured in more healthy food products.
According to the survey, there is a growing demand for hazelnuts in the food industry already. Consumers are becoming interested in eating whole hazelnuts alone compared to hazelnut-containing food products. About 49 percent of survey participants said that they eat whole hazelnuts once a month, which is a significant increase when compared to the 33 percent reported in 2006. This may lead manufacturers to incorporate the whole nut or pieces of the nut in their products rather than simulating its flavor in them.
Another possible cause for the increasing popularity of hazelnuts as a health food is the fact that consumers are looking for alternatives to commonly-found nuts, like almonds. According to Steve Bryant, Managing Director of the Seattle office of MSL, a public relations firm, consumers like a little variety.
“People get fatigued with almonds,” he told Capital Press.
Consumers in the survey also agreed that they prefer hazelnuts that are grown in America. This puts the American market at an advantage, with Oregon produces about 99 percent of the hazelnuts grown in the US. However, with Turkey producing 70 percent of the world’s supply of hazelnuts, it is likely that they will provide competition to American growers . Oregon is still leading the hazelnut rivalry with consumer preference along with closer and faster product exports.