- In a recent survey, food industry product developers forecast a big future for hazelnuts, with 87% saying they are “positive” on its prospects in the U.S. market. Baking is expected to score the biggest growth.
- It is no surprise, after consumers expressed their demand for new hazelnut products in a recent national survey. The findings point to fresh opportunities in several food categories as well as innovative flavor combinations beyond the proven pairing of chocolate and hazelnuts.
- The domestic supply of sustainable hazelnuts is booming, with rapidly expanding acreage projected to double domestic production by 2025, satisfying consumer preference for U.S.-grown ingredients.
If you sense the rich, premium flavor of roasted hazelnuts cropping up everywhere, you are onto something. Product development executives say the potential for the baking sector is especially obvious, especially among Millennials.
In fact, a recent survey of 25 food industry decision-makers, commissioned by Northwest Hazelnut Company, found a large majority (87%) had a “positive” opinion of hazelnuts, and 40% said they were using more hazelnuts in their product than a few years ago.
Their excitement was palpable, with a majority reporting increased demand over the last two to three years. The pace may quicken yet, as 60% of those polled projected increased demand extending over the next five to 10 years.
U.S. bakers and food makers are in a race to innovate in an underdeveloped U.S. market for hazelnut products. For inspiration, many look to hazelnut products in Europe, where generations of consumers have embraced the flavor.
American consumers’ tastes are unique. To understand them, U.S. hazelnut growers polled American consumers for product development insights. The findings can help interested companies shorten their product development timelines, while improving their odds of a marketplace hit.
Consumers surveyed were eager to try hazelnuts in many applications, but named as their top seven: Mixed Nuts or Trail Nuts, Baked Goods (cookies, muffins or bread), chocolate bars or candy, fruit and nut bar, salad dressing and granola/cereal.
Their favorite flavor combos? Chocolate, caramel, coffee, vanilla, sea salt, and coconut – in that order. Combinations of these favorites might be especially potent.
Many food makers are starting to work with hazelnut ingredients for the first time. They will find an increasingly well-developed and stable supply chain, with domestic processors now marketing up to 14 varieties in eight ingredient forms, from whole kernels to fine meal and paste – roasted or unroasted.
Ingredient samples are available for product development purposes from Oregon suppliers, who can also consult on specification, sourcing and applications.
Suppliers are gearing up to meet a projected boom in domestic production since acreage has doubled in the past five years. At the current pace of expansion, Oregon hazelnut orchards will nearly triple in size to 80,000 acres in mature production by 2024.