The International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC) celebrated the XXXVII World Nut and Dried Fruit Congress between 21-23 May, 2018, in Seville, Spain. With nearly 1,500 attendees, the only and largest event in the nut and dried fruit industry has broken its attendance record.
Professionals from more than 60 countries attended the three-day Congress to share knowledge and ideas in market development, supply chain, consumption, product innovation, food safety, nutrition and research. The Congress consisted in 18 sessions including round tables, seminars and keynote speakers’ presentations.
Promising Nut and Dried Fruit Production
Industry leaders forecasted promising nut and dried fruit production volumes for the present season, keeping up with the previous years sustained growing trend. During the round tables held at the Congress, the 2018/2019 world tree nut production has been forecasted at 4.5 million metric tons (kernel basis, except pistachios in-shell), up by 5% from the prior season and increased by 27% from the prior 10 year-average. This early estimation is consistent with the positive trend observed during the last decade.
Almond production keeps increasing year on year, 2018/19 crop has been forecasted to reach 1.3 million MT (kernel basis). Up by 5%, cashew crop is expected to amount to over 800,000 MT. The largest increments this season are expected for Brazil nuts, pistachios, macadamias and pecans. Forecasted at around 29,000 MT, Brazil nut production is foreseen to recover from last season shortage and to return to normal levels during 2018/19. World pistachio crop is also expected to be raised by 31%, mainly due to a large USA crop (back to a regular «on year») and a bumper crop expected in Turkey. Overall 2018 macadamia and pecan crops are forecasted to be increased by 12% and 10%, respectively and due to the increasing planted areas in the main producing countries, macadamia supply is projected to keep growing in the years to come. Hazelnut supply is forecasted to be similar to the previous season. According to the early estimations, walnut and pine nut crops will remain within last years’ average levels. World peanut 2018/19 production is expected to reach 38.7 million MT (in-shell basis), raised by 3% from the previous 10 years average.
Global dried fruit production has been forecasted to reach almost 3.2 million MT in 2018/19; 6% up from the prior season and 23% over the last 10-year average, on account of an expected increased production of raisins, Sultanas and currants (9%), table dates (7%), sweetened dried cranberries (6%) and prunes (5%). World dried apricots and dried figs early estimates predict average production levels of over 214,000 MT and 126,000 MT, respectively.
Keynote Speakers and Seminars
Dr. Andreu Veà, known as «The Internet Biographer» and who described himself as an «observer of the world» provided an insight into «The Internet of Things that Matter», whereas renowned jurist Antonio Garrigues Walker, Chairman of the Garrigues Foundation and Honorary and Chairman of law firm Garrigues, gave an overview on today´s geopolitical trends. «We don’t have the right to be pessimistic, we have the right to face and solve problems», Mr. Garrigues explained in reference to the current rise of populism across the globe.
The Congress also gathered distinguished nutritionists such as Prof. Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Chairman of the INC World Forum for Nutrition Research and Dissemination, and Dr. Ramon Estruch, Coordinator of the awarded PREDIMED Study. Prof. Salas-Salvadó presented the «New Findings on Nuts and Dried Fruits and Health», while Dr. Estruch gave a lecture on the PREDIMED research, which is the largest ever randomized primary prevention trial showing that a typical Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts is beneficial against the incidence of several major chronic diseases in subjects at high cardiovascular risk. The study was conducted in 16 centers in Spain with nearly 7,500 participants and a median follow-up of 4.8 years. «Results showed a significant (28-30%) reduction in the combined endpoint of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death», explained Dr. Estruch. «Researchers found eating a Mediterranean diet with a 30g handful of mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) a day may help improve heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, weight and brain function», he concluded.
The Congress’ program also included a Scientific Seminar, chaired by Pino Calcagni and with Dr. Alison Blackwell as guest speaker who gave a conference on Bacteriophage Management of Salmonella Contaminants of Vine Fruits. «The use of bacteriophage – natural enemies of bacteria- is one possible alternative to the application of conventional bactericidal agents, especially in the organic production», claimed Dr. Blackwell. «At present -Dr. Blackwell has added- studies are focused on methods of bacteriophage application to the dried fruit with the aim of reducing the risk of the initial contamination on the drying mats, as well as to provide extended protection against the pathogenic bacteria during processing».
INC Awards: Highlighting the Best in Industry
INC Awards are aimed at recognizing outstanding leaders and visionaries who contribute to the excellence of the nut and dried fruit industry. Several prominent individuals and companies received a recognition at the INC Congress in Seville. The Individual Golden Nut Award was given to Mr. Giles Hacking, for his contribution to the INC sector; Borges Agricultural and Industrial Nuts received the Corporate Golden Nut Award; the Award for Excellence in Research went to the PREDIMED Study Group while Can Bosh Restaurant owner Chef Joan Bosch was distinguished with the Award for Excellence in Gastronomy. Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella was recognized with the INC Innovation Award for its 100% All Natural Pistachio Chewy Bites.
Finally, INC Executive Director Goretti Guasch presented the INC Annual Report on the last day of the Congress. As part of the marketing activities, the Nuts for a Healthier World campaign was also introduced in Seville. This marketing action consists of a series of videos linked to a solidarity project with the aim to promote the industry while contributing to a healthier and fairer world. A bag of Nut & Dried Fruit mix will be donated to people in need whenever the videos are shared on social media.