Snacking Nuts Hiking The Health Halo

Lucky's Product Display

Themed displays, free-standing bins, new varieties can boost sales.

Heart Healthy PistachiosA recent “What’s Trending in Nutrition” survey conducted by Today’s Dietitian magazine and Pollack Communications, a food, health and wellness public relations agency based in New York City, asked 450 dietitians what they believed would be the hottest nutrition trends in 2016. Forty-nine percent said nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, would reach “superfood” status. And it appears that last year was indeed a big year for nuts.

“Sales of packaged nuts continue to grow every year,” says Chris Gardier, senior vice president of sales at John B. Sanfilippo & Sons Inc., Elgin, IL. “The global market for nuts is expected to grow annually for at least the next five years.”

A number of factors are contributing to the rise in popularity of nuts. Chief among these is consumers’ increased interest in healthy snacking and eating. “Nuts have a health halo,” says Gardier.“ And, more consumers are becoming aware of their health benefits.”

Jane Andrews, MS, RDN, nutrition and product labeling manager for Wegmans Foods, Rochester, NY, told Today’s Dietitian that nuts’ health aura hasn’t yet been maxed out.

Lower Health Risks

According to the Mayo Clinic, located in Rochester, MN, eating nuts as part of a healthy diet may be good for your heart. Besides being packed with protein, most nuts contain at least some of these heart-healthy substances: unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and vitamin E.

A series of large studies, including the Nurses’ Health Study, found that the more nuts people consumed, the less likely they were to die at any given age, especially of cancer or heart disease. Statistics show that eating nuts on a regular basis may reduce the risk of heart attack by as much as 60 percent.

In addition, those who eat nuts on a regular basis tend to have a lower risk for diabetes, better cardiovascular health, a reduced mortality risk and greater longevity. Research also confirms that weight loss is one of the health benefits of regular nut consumption.

Also noteworthy is a 2014 Washington Post article illustrating the impact that increased emphasis on health and nutrition has had on nuts. The Post reported that almond consumption jumped 220 percent from 2005 to 2014, due mainly to the notion about its effect on health and diet.

All Day Consumption

Based on these health benefits, it’s understandable that nuts are finding their way into more meals than ever. Nuts are being incorporated into breakfast items from smoothie drinks to smoothie bowls, in fruit- and vegetable-based salads, in vegetarian and meat dishes and in desserts of every kind. They are also increasingly being consumed as grab-and-go snacks.

“While many consumers are aware of the health and nutrition value of nuts, we need to continue to reach out to them with that message,” says Debbie Lloyd, operations manager for Nature’s Joy, Fresno, CA. “I’m a strong proponent of letting the consumers know the facts.”

Produce executives can take advantage of nuts’ health aura and consumers’ increased interest by creating displays that attract attention and illustrate benefits.

Displays‭ ‬&‭ ‬Merchandising

Pure Simple Goodness DisplayAs nuts are often an impulse buy, eye-catching displays are one of the most effective ways to stimulate sales.

“It’s important to help consumers find packaged nuts,” offers Eric Boonshaft of Hampton Farms, Branchville, VA. “The more visible they are, the better the sales. Displays are an ideal way to drive incremental sales.”

Start with the seasons: “Packaged nuts can be promoted year-round, and that’s a huge advantage,” says Boonshaft. There are a number of occasions that lend themselves to promotion, offers Lloyd. Thanksgiving through the end of January is a peak time for nuts. Boonshaft suggests events such as tailgating during football season, the Super Bowl, baseball season, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, summertime barbecues, and the World Series are all seasonal idea starters.

“Nuts are ideal for anytime people have the opportunity to gather, enjoy the company of others or celebrate,” says Boonshaft. “Nuts are a universal snack.”

Incorporate health: Ideal times to promote the health benefits of nuts include February (National Heart Month), March (National Nutrition Month) and June (Men’s Health Month). Lloyd suggests having information cards and recipes available for these promotions.

Prepack and stack: Beth Sequeria, a sales and marketing representative for Kennan Farms, Avenal, CA, says prepacked displays are an effective way of merchandising pistachios. They create a home for pistachios through attractive, colorful graphics while drawing consumer attention to important health messaging. “It’s a powerful combination,” she emphasizes.

Boonshaft says Hampton Farms’ displayable boxes with punch-out panels are easy to set up, easy to stack and very flexible. “You can make a display as small or as large as you want,” he points out. “It’s a quick, cost-effective way to build a display that can fit into almost any area you have available.”

Create adjacent displays: Having packaged nuts displayed next to packaged salads or salad ingredients is very effective, says John B. Sanfilippo’s Chris Gardier. “Slivered almonds, pecans and walnuts are nuts commonly used in salads,” he says. “Consumers may not think of using nuts in their salads until they see them adjacent to the ingredients. It’s a great impulse buy.”


“Produce and nuts are like cake and icing. The cake (produce) is the star, but everyone loves the icing (nuts), too.”

— Chris Gardier, John B. Sanfilippo

Stand up and be seen: Stand-up pouches are popular with consumers. They’re easy open as well as easy-pour/ reseal. They create a visual presence on shelf that helps the product stand out from the competition.

Gardier says consumers particularly like stand-up packages with clear windows that let them see the product. “These pouches are perfect for displaying on shelves,” says Lloyd. “They are visually appealing, and they allow consumers to read the information on the package more easily. They are more inviting to consumers than traditional packaging.”

Build multiple, smaller displays: Gardier believes several smaller displays are more effective than one larger display. “It’s not about the size of the display,” he says. “It’s about location. Multiple displays interrupt the customer at different points in their shopping journey. It also capitalizes on the impulse buyers.”

Use free-standing bins: Lloyd says free-standing, quarter-pallet bins have delivered the best results for Nature’s Joy. The bins quickly gain customers’ attention and make the product easily accessible. She suggests locating bins at the entrance of the produce department for maximum exposure and benefit from foot traffic.

Stock new and unusual nut products: Consumer desire is driving development of new varieties of flavored nut products. Pistachios, for example, are available in smoky barbecue, ranch and Cajun flavors. Dill pickle, jalapeño and sriracha cashews may vie for shelf space with cocoa-roast and raspberry-glazed almonds. Creating a special display focused on what’s new can be an attention-getter and a good way to entice customers to purchase new flavors.

“Packaged nuts have a lot going for them,” stresses Gardier. “Research studies, consumer surveys and sales figures are all favorable. Consumers are looking for healthy and nutritious products. Nuts have a tremendous upside.”

Gardier sums up with this analogy: “Produce and nuts are like cake and icing. The cake (produce) is the star, but everyone loves the icing (nuts) too.”


Lower Health Risks

According to the Mayo Clinic, located in Rochester, MN, eating nuts as part of a healthy diet may be good for your heart. Besides being packed with protein, most nuts contain at least some of these heart-healthy substances: unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and vitamin E.

A series of large studies, including the Nurses’ Health Study, found that the more nuts people consumed, the less likely they were to die at any given age, especially of cancer or heart disease. Statistics show that eating nuts on a regular basis may reduce the risk of heart attack by as much as 60 percent.

In addition, those who eat nuts on a regular basis tend to have a lower risk for diabetes, better cardiovascular health, a reduced mortality risk and greater longevity. Research also confirms that weight loss is one of the health benefits of regular nut consumption.

Also noteworthy is a 2014 Washington Post article illustrating the impact that increased emphasis on health and nutrition has had on nuts. The Post reported that almond consumption jumped 220 percent from 2005 to 2014, due mainly to the notion about its effect on health and diet.

Based on these health benefits, it’s understandable that nuts are finding their way into more meals than ever. Nuts are being incorporated into breakfast items from smoothie drinks to smoothie bowls, in fruit- and vegetable-based salads, in vegetarian and meat dishes and in desserts of every kind. They are also increasingly being consumed as grab-and-go snacks.

“While many consumers are aware of the health and nutrition value of nuts, we need to continue to reach out to them with that message,” says Debbie Lloyd, operations manager for Nature’s Joy, Fresno, CA. “I’m a strong proponent of letting consumers know the facts.”

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