Why are natural nuts so expensive?! I’ve asked myself this question many times, while on the hunt for the perfect snack in between meals (I often forget that M&M’s and peanuts, which technically isn’t a nut doesn’t count!) Natural nuts are high in healthy fats, proteins and are a great source of fiber that provide various health benefits making it the ideal go-to option for many, but the price tag can be a major turn off. So, what gives? While there are several contributing factors, one of the most interesting is due to supply and demand. Around 25 years ago nuts weren’t considered healthy due to their high-fat content, making it less appealing to buy. Today, with many scientific studies pointing to the nutritional benefits that nuts offer, they have been in very high demand, making them pricier than in previous years. In part, this is why nuts are so expensive, but what about each individual nut?
Below we take a look at the specific factors that contribute to the higher price tag of natural nuts.
Eat an almond anywhere in the world and chances are that it was grown in the Golden State. California is the largest almond producer in the world mainly due to its ideal climate. This is because almond trees require a specific habitat to thrive in-mainly a cool summer and dry and wet winter. Up until this past May, California has been in a drought for seven years, making it a major contributing factor to the hefty price tag.
Cashews undergo a long and tedious process before it reaches its final stage of consumption. The cashew apple, which is grown on the cashew tree, is first plucked by farmers before being sent to a factory where the apple is removed, and then finally sent to processing where the shell and husk are both removed. Another contributing factor is transportation costs. Harvesting of cashews can only take place in sandy and loamy soil, which is very hard to locate, driving transportation costs up once they are ready to be sold.
The demand for pecans moves faster than pecans can grow. It takes roughly 10 years from the start of cultivation to harvest, which results in a higher price point.
Have you ever noticed that bags of pistachios are usually very small? This is because pistachio trees do not grow many pistachios to begin with. One of my absolute favorite nuts of all, pistachios take a very long time to mature. It takes almost five years for a pistachio orchard to start bearing and between 15-20 years to reach its peak production. Add that to that the fact that pistachios are a native desert plant that only survives in arid locations.
Did you know that pine nuts take a whopping 18 months to 3 years to mature? Pine cones also require an extremely difficult laboring process. Even with the agricultural technology available today, pine nuts are often extracted by hand. First, the pine cones must be stored in a hot and sunny place for about 20 days in order for the cones to completely dry. After the cones must be struck against a hard surface to break the seed away from the shattered cone where the pine nuts are finally extracted.
Like almond and pistachios, walnuts are also primarily grown in California and require very specific conditions in order to be harvested. The laboring process is also a major contributor to the high price point.
As we can see, factors including supply and demand, weather and long harvesting and labor processes are all factors that make natural nuts expensive.
As nutritious and filling as nuts are, we have to ask ourselves, are they worth the high price point? I think so!