Industry and market trends
Walnuts are supporting the Indian food and beverage industry to gain more traction.
Bakeries, pâtisseries and the food and beverage processing industry are using walnuts in an ever-increasing manner. Walnuts make for a great ingredient. Walnut-embellished menu items are rich in texture, have a great mouth-feel and crunchiness. These are nutritious as well. Walnuts are being used to create menus which incorporate healthy salads, curries and desserts. Walnuts are also being used for snacks to be served along with High-Tea.
The global pandemic has been a watershed moment for the Indian food-led businesses. Nutrition and family health have become a priority. It has compelled the food-led industry to re-imagine and reposition their business concept and culinary-product profile. Food brands, whether as an outlet or through food retail are tapping into the moments of consumption of customers with healthier options. The nutrition-packed walnut has become a trusted key ingredient. Customers are extending their repeat patronage to walnut-based menu items and food-retail products.
Food and beverage businesses are collaborating with the wellness sector and nutritionists to pave the path to a healthy today and a fitter tomorrow. Higher revenues and increased profitability are the results. The purchasing behaviour of customers has changed completely. The transparency created by food retailers through detailed product-profiling is allowing customers for the careful and right selection of food products. Products such as walnut bread and walnut butter are finding prominent places on food-retail shelves and finding favour with customers. According to research, consumption of walnut butter would increase, thereby increasing its profitability. Walnut butter is being marked in a creative and nutrition-led blend with other ingredients.
Consuming plant-based ingredients such as nuts and seeds, fruit and vegetable produce, whole grains, beans, pulses, soy foods, plant oils, herbs and spices are recommended for a healthier way of life. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) have recently suggested incorporating such ingredients in one's daily diet to maintain good health and optimal immunity.
Since the Indian F&B industry has been intensely influenced by western wave and is innovating within itself, it is only fair for it to resort to the US-based premium brand, California Walnuts. The brand boasts of a fine rapport in the sector and delivers best quality walnuts, helping the F&B vertical to prosper.
More than 99% of walnuts grown in the United States come from California 141,640 bearing hectares of walnut orchards. The Central Valley of California is the State's prime walnut growing region, with the mild climate and deep fertile soils that provide ideal growing conditions. There are more than 4,800 California walnut growers, and most farms are owned and operated by families who have been in the walnut business for several generations. With the strong brand lineage of harvesting high-quality walnuts since ages, the Indian market has seen a huge demand for consumption of California Walnuts lately.
Nutrition from Walnuts
Walnuts are a nutrition-storehouse, which are entering the priority list of health-conscious menus and encouraging the F&B industry to promote meals and dishes with nutritional value. These super nuts are packed with nutrients to support the heart, brain, and gut, and are known to have prebiotic properties that enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. They further act as an excellent source of plant-based omega-3 ALA, which is essential for heart health, thus being recommended in the fitness and dietary industry as well. With these health benefits, the consumer behaviourism in India is seen siding with walnuts and thus catapulting the consumption of nuts in India as it gives frontline players in the F& B industry to bet big on the sector.
Chef Yaduvansh Bahadur Mathur retired from the services of ITC Hotels as Senior Executive Chef, is also an author and a culinary research and development specialist. Chef Mathur reminisces and emphatically shares his love for walnuts:
"My first romance with walnuts goes back to my childhood extending to my teens. Pleasant memories come flooding in as to how in New Delhi's winters, my mother would fill the front bib pocket of my woolen dungaree with walnuts. Interestingly, we did not have a nutcracker at home. We used a hammer to break open the walnut shell or pressed the walnuts in the gap between a door and the sturdy door-frame. That did get the thumb caught too!
Eating walnuts regularly, therefore, reinforced "taste-imprinting" throughout my life and career. As a professional chef, I discovered fresh ways to cook with walnuts and enjoyed eating walnuts. Eating walnuts became an indulgence. Early in my career, I realized that walnuts are not only convenient and delicious but are nutritious also.
I have used walnuts as a bar-snack and in energy-bar formulations. I have used walnuts in salads, especially those made with crunchy salad leaves and minimal dressing. The classic Waldorf salad is just one of those salads. I have made pantry puddings, desserts and afternoon tea-cakes with walnuts.
Walnuts are wonderful thickening agents and have a culinary marriage with fishes, poultry, meats and vegetables. Walnuts work wonders with Indian curries as well, with formulations as diverse, as the diversity of regional Indian cuisines. Recipes range from the professional to the home-style.
Walnut is a great functional ingredient of versatile usage."