Nut glut sends prices plunging

Lower demand for on-the-go snacks amid home working and shuttered pubs have hit prices

A nut glut of nuts due to pubs being closed and far lower air travel has sent prices tumbling to multiyear lows.

Mintec, the food retail consultancy, said its benchmark prices for cashews and almonds had been falling since the start of the year as restaurants and hotels closed their doors.

Cashew prices sank to their lowest level since Mintec’s records began in 2011, especially as religious festivities and weddings in India were cancelled to contain the spread of Covid-19, curbing demand for nuts used in curries.

In Europe, there was less demand for almonds, hazelnuts, cashews and Brazil nuts as ingredients for on-the-go snacks such as cereal bars with fewer workers commuting to offices.

Martin Rome, managing director of Essex-based Community Foods, a nut importer and distributor, said businesses that supply salted peanuts to pubs had "suffered enormously" since pubs were ordered to close in March.

“It’s been disastrous," he said. "Sales have fallen 10 to 20pc over three months. Even though there’s been an increase over the past six weeks, it’s been a very difficult period for many people. It all has a knock-on effect. Product is piling up in warehouses throughout India and the Middle East.”

Favourable weather led the US Department of Agriculture to forecast another record crop which, combined with limited demand, depressed almond prices by 41pc this month compared to last year. The US is the world’s top nut producer.

Aidan Wright, a pricing analyst at Mintec, said: “Some nuts saw a boom at the start of the pandemic because of home-baking demand, but that seems to have decreased to more normal levels now.”

However, he added: “The prices are quite attractive for buyers and with lockdown people are looking for protein alternatives as healthy eating comes to the front of minds.”