Why Are Nuts So Expensive? (11 Reasons Why)

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Maisie Hughes

Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

Nuts are among the few foods you can mix in almost any dish, from Greek salads and pie crusts to butternut squash soups and bundt cakes.

However, do not hurry to your kitchens just yet. A quick peek at nut prices might leave you stunned. Why are nuts so expensive? I looked into it, and here is what I found!

Why Are Nuts So Expensive?

Nuts are expensive because nuts thrive in areas categorized as Zone 9. Outside of these areas, nuts can be difficult or impossible to grow. Even in Zone 9, nut trees often produce low yields, creating a gap between the supply and demand of nuts when people are relying on nuts to improve their diets.

If you are interested in learning more about the challenges of growing, deshelling, and transporting nuts and how these factors make nuts expensive, keep on reading!

1. Nuts Thrive In A Specific Environment

Like other crops, nuts need to be in a specific environment to thrive, and this environment is often referred to as Zone 9.

Generally, Zone 9 encompasses areas within the equator. Unfortunately, these areas are mostly water, which gives nuts a limited land area to grow in.

Technically, some nuts can grow in other environments, but the process is more complex, and the quality of the nuts is not as good as those grown in Zone 9.

Therefore, these challenging circumstances make growing and harvesting nuts difficult, so nut farmers sell nuts at a high cost.

2. Nut-Bearing Trees Have A Low Yield

Even when planted in Zone 9, nut-bearing trees tend to produce a low yield. Moreover, most nuts cannot be processed due to defects or poor quality.

In every harvest, there is a huge possibility that a considerable portion of the yield might go to waste, so precautions in growing and harvesting nuts must always be taken.

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To supply nuts on a commercial scale, nut farmers have to grow nut-bearing trees on a large expanse of land.

So, procuring and caring for this land alongside nurturing the nut-bearing trees are expensive endeavors, and these expenses are reflected in the final selling price of nuts.

3. Strict Health Regulations Are Imposed On Nuts

Most people are unaware that popular nuts like almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and pistachios may contain toxic molds that can cause serious public health concerns.

To uphold consumer safety, nuts undergo extensive testing in different parts of the processing.

That said, this strict adherence to government regulations is costly for farms, and to generate profit despite these expenses, nut farmers have to increase the cost of their nuts.

4. Nut Farms Need The Expertise Of Beekeepers

Some types of nuts, like the Brazil nut, rely on trees for germination, but most trees require bees’ assistance.

So, since the bee population began to decline, beekeepers have been essential in helping farmers germinate the trees and ensure a higher yield in the long run.

However, beekeepers are in high demand, making their services more expensive. When farmers rely on beekeepers, you can expect that the nuts will be more expensive.

5. Deshelling Nuts Is A Long Process

5. Deshelling Nuts Is A Long Process

Nut extraction is a long process, mainly because nuts are delicate. Also, using too much force can crack not only the shell but also the nut inside.

Moreover, when nuts are damaged in the deshelling process, likely, the nuts will no longer qualify for selling.

Further, this lengthy process increases the operations cost of farmers and big-time manufacturers.

Naturally, these costs are passed on to consumers, making nuts expensive.

6. Processing Nuts Involves Manual Labor

Automation is a great technology that can speed up the deshelling and processing of nuts. However, there are times when machines cannot be trusted to handle nuts delicately.

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As a result, you will often find nut farms and commercial-scale manufacturers hiring workers to handle each nut individually.

Moreover, while manual labor makes processing nuts costly, it is also through this that more nuts reach the packaging stage without getting damaged.

Therefore, nuts are sold at a higher price to compensate for this additional expense.

7. Healthy Living Is The New Trend

Healthy living has been an ongoing trend even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. However, during the pandemic, people started making more health-conscious decisions.

Moreover, one of the biggest sacrifices people had to make was junk food, and as a replacement, nuts and other nut-containing snacks became the favorite alternative.

After all, nuts are not only delicious but also crunchy enough to make each handful as satisfying as a bag of potato chips.

Additionally, nuts are extremely healthy and easy to mix into people’s diets. With nut farmers alerted to this trend, it is no surprise that nuts have become more expensive.

8. Nuts Are Normally Transported Long Distances

Since nuts thrive mostly in Zone 9 areas, most of the world’s nut supply has to be transported long distances to reach buyers and distributors.

That said, transporting nuts is an expensive job, mainly because the nuts have to be kept fresh, and farmers have to ensure that the nuts do not get damaged along the way.

Further, this is even more crucial when nuts have to be shipped by sea. As a result, nuts sourced from other countries or faraway locations tend to be expensive.

9. Plant-Based Diets Are Driving Up Nut Demands

Climate change and animal welfare are making plant-based products like vegan meat and milk an in-demand commodity worldwide.

To meet this demand, nut farms have diversified their products. Now, more and more companies are creating nut-based milk, ice cream, and even cheese.

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As you can imagine, creating delicious nut-based products is more expensive than producing dairy products. As such, you will notice that vegan nut-based goods are pricier.

10. Tariffs Increase The Cost Of Nuts

Imported nuts are expensive, not always because imported nuts are higher in quality. Technically, the price difference is a result of tariffs.

So, when imported nuts arrive in another country, the government imposes taxes and other dues on the nuts that increase their selling price.

11. Thieving Makes Added Security Essential

Believe it or not, nut thieves are real, and they are stealing crate after crate of nuts. To prevent thieving, farms have to hire security forces and build infrastructures.

Moreover, security technology is also utilized to better monitor the trees and the warehouses where harvested nuts are kept.

Of course, all of these ramp up the prices of nut production and, therefore, the nut’s selling price.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why Macadamia nuts are so expensive, why pomegranates are so expensive, and why vanilla bean is so expensive.

Conclusion

Currently, there is a considerable gap between the demand and supply of nuts worldwide. Mainly, this results from nut trees being challenging to grow and producing low yields.

However, factors like nut thieving and the declining population of bees further limit the nut supplies that reach distributors.

Furthermore, nuts are becoming increasingly popular as more people adopt plant-based diets. All of these factors combined are the reasons nuts are so expensive.

Author

  • Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

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