Hazelnut Growers of Oregon to Take Over Snacking and Foodservice Arena With Projected 100,000 Tons of Hazelnuts
AURORA, OR - As consumers take to purchasing more plant-based products, what’s more plant-based than the nut? Whether roasted, raw, or salted, hazelnuts are versatile and rising in popularity. I tapped Ryan Flaherty, Grower Relations Manager, to see what Hazelnut Growers of Oregon had in store for its large crop this year.
“Big company names like Planter’s, Ferrero, and M&M’s are major buyers of hazelnuts; they’ve really brought hazelnuts to the forefront,” Ryan tells me. “Not only that, but you’re starting to see a lot more companies develop different hazelnut usages, whether it’s in their ice cream, yogurt, or hazelnut non-dairy ice cream and other innovative ideas. Hazelnuts are starting to gain more traction.”
Foodservice and snacking usage take up a good portion of Hazelnut Growers of Oregon’s hazelnuts, and Ryan says that business has been steady. Hazelnut Growers of Oregon processes close to 25 percent of the entire U.S. hazelnut market, with about 40 percent of its crops exported in-shell and 60 percent dedicated for domestic use in the United States.
In March 2019, the co-op’s hazelnut processing facility achieved the Safe Quality Food Level 3 (SQF-3) certification, setting the cooperative ready to process the estimated 60,000 tons of hazelnuts incoming this year.
“Hazelnuts are an alternate bearing crop, and 2020 happens to be the year where we expect a large crop,” Ryan continues. “Around August, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) statistic service comes out to give a recommended estimate of what it thinks is the crop yield based on what it counts in trees. The ODA selects the same trees every year prior to harvest for continuity purposes. Early estimates by growers and other hazelnut processors are 60,000 tons. By 2025, the industry is expecting almost 100,000 tons of hazelnuts in the state of Oregon.”
Hazelnut’s rising popularity makes it a steady contender in the plant-based arena. With more alternatives and substitutes rolling out on retail shelves, the versatile nut packs a mighty punch from snacking to various cooking applications.
As I watch trends come and go, I have a feeling these tree nuts will only continue to permeate more throughout the food industry. AndNowUKnow will continue to bring more nutty news and pertinent produce updates to your inbox.