This category includes establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing salted, roasted, dried, cooked, or
canned nuts or in processing grains or seeds in a similar manner for snack purposes. Establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing confectionery-coated nuts are classified under SIC 2064: Candy and Confectionery Products and those manufacturing peanut butter are classified under SIC 2099: Food Preparations, Not Elsewhere Classified.
311911 (Roasted Nuts and Peanut Butter Manufacturing)
In the early 2000s, salted or dried peanuts accounted for about half of the snack-nut market. The rest of the snack-nut market was split among mixed nuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and macadamia nuts. Salted or roasted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and other seeds are also included in this category. Nuts and seeds are sold both packaged and as bulk food in grocery stores.
The industry ships more than $3 billion worth of goods, according to the most recent figures published by the U.S. Census Bureau. More than 100 establishments are in operation. A total of 1.35 million acres of peanuts were planted in 2002, and of that total, 1.29 million acres were harvested for nuts. Yield per acre in 2002 totaled 3,027 pounds.
The market for snack nuts has remained fairly level for a decade. Snack-food nuts have strong competition from potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels, and microwave popcorn for the nation's snack dollars. The snack-nut and seed industry has handled its competition by introducing new flavors of seeds and nuts. For example, Blue Diamond introduced lemon-chili and ranch-flavored almonds in some parts of the country, and Planters introduced hot and mild versions of spicy peanuts, as well as low-fat honey roasted peanuts.
Manufacturers have also tried more creative packaging to expand their markets. Planters brought out a line of snacks in small, narrow bags and called them Munch-and-Go Tube Nuts. Merchandising efforts for nut and seed snacks are minimal compared to those for potato chips, though. Manufacturers have also been pushing for more shelf space and displays in grocery stores. Nut and seed snacks are often placed in the "impulse" area—near registers. While salted snack nuts and seeds showed flat sales, many producers and distributors were optimistic about sales of dried nuts because of their nutritional value. In fact, in the early 2000s, the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, which pointed to nuts as a healthy snack option, boosted sales of dried nuts. Sales of snack nuts grew 7.7 percent to $1.5 billion in 2003.
Price has been another factor working against the industry. About 20 to 25 percent of domestic peanuts are used for snack nuts. With peanut prices kept high by government quotas, restrictions against imports, and support prices, peanut snack manufacturers are somewhat restricted in their supplies and prices. While almond processors and processors of other nuts can buy foreign nuts, peanut processors must buy domestically-grown peanuts. A drought in 1990 sent peanut prices soaring to 30 cents per pound, resulting in deep profit losses for peanut processors. Prices had fallen to 23.4 cents per pound by 2001; that year the value of peanut production totaled roughly $1 billion. Prices dropped to 17.9 cents per pound in 2002, and the value of production plunged to $594 million. The production of peanuts for snack nuts totaled 3.32 million pounds in 2002.
Peanuts for snack nuts are usually purchased raw by a nut sheller. Processors, such as Planters, purchase the shelled nuts and send them on to blanchers to have the skins removed. (Commercial processors used 161 million pounds of shelled peanuts during January 2000.) Finally, the processing company receives them for roasting. Some snack nut companies, however, do the shelling and blanching themselves.
Many non-peanut nuts are sold through growerowned co-operatives such as Blue Diamond Almonds and Diamond Walnuts. Blue Diamond was the largest tree nut processor in the world as of 2004, with the capacity to process more than 12 million pounds of almonds daily. California far surpasses other states in terms of almond shipments. Other leading almond producers include Georgia, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Michigan.
The industry sales leader was Kraft Foods Inc., which included Nabisco Foods Group (Planters brand), with overall 2003 sales of $31 billion and 106,000 employees. Dole Food Company was second, with overall 2003 sales of $4.7 billion and 59,000 employees. Other industry leaders included Lance Inc. (2003 sales of $562 million and 4,400 employees); Blue Diamond Growers (2003 sales of $422 million and 1,150 employees); John B. Sanfilippo & Son Inc. (2003 sales of $408 million and 1,640 employees); and ML Macadamia Orchards, L.P. (2003 sales of $15 million and 295 employees).
Hoover's Company Profiles. Hoover's Online, 2004. Available from http://www.hoovers.com .
"Snack Nuts." DSN Retailing Today, 10 November 2003.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service. "Statistics of Oilseeds, Fats, and Oils." Washington, DC: 2003. Available from http://www.usda.gov/nass/pubs/agr03/03_ch3.pdf .