As we come to a new understanding of the food ingredients that have positive health benefits, consumers will gain a new appreciation for California walnuts.
“Omega-3s cannot be made in the body,” says Pam Graviet, senior international marketing director for the California Walnut Commission (CWC).
CWC represents the more than 4,800 growers and nearly 100 traders that make up the California walnut industry. Founded in 1987, the CWC is mainly concerned with health research and activities to develop the export market. More than 99% of the walnuts produced in the US are grown on California’s fertile soils, and California walnuts account for nearly two-thirds of the world’s walnut trade. The industry directly and indirectly supports around 85,000 jobs.
Lift the lid on omega-3
There are three main omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found in plant foods like walnuts, flaxseed, soybean oil, and canola oil. EPA and DHA are found in oily fish, including salmon, mackerel, and trout.
“The California Walnut Commission is constantly talking to the trade about the benefits of walnuts, a rich source of plant-based omega-3 ALA at 2.7g per 30g serving – most ALA of any other tree nut,” said Peter Meadows, director of The Garden Marketing & PR, the UK sales agent for California walnuts. “We are in close contact with retailers and run an advertising and editorial program for retailers. In a normal situation we also go to food shows. “
For consumers looking to stay healthy in the current uncertain climate, California Walnuts’ rich omega-3 content offers a strong value proposition for overall health and wellbeing. Research by Insights agency Buzzback, conducted in 2020 before the Covid-19 outbreak, shows that consumers in the US and UK are interested in trying new ingredients that are health-promoting and health-oriented. Omega-3s, along with probiotics, are among the top five ingredients that consumers in both countries believed would help products stand out in the competitive wellness market.
Achieve with the ‘Power of 3’
On the consumer side, California walnuts carried out their biggest activity to date in February 2020, the “Power of 3” campaign. This “premiere” for California walnuts was a global marketing effort to educate consumers about the health benefits of walnuts. The key message is that at least three handfuls of walnuts per week (about 90g) is a simple and easy way to improve your overall diet that walnuts are the only nut that is high in plant-based omega-3 ALA.
The month-long flash ran in nine countries including the UK, USA, United Arab Emirates, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Turkey. February is the heart month in the UK and the US and means Valentine’s Day in many countries. So the timing for February was crucial. He built on the heart health benefits of omega-3s and encouraged consumers to share the “Power of 3” with loved ones.
“Omega-3 has many associations with heart health,” says Peter Meadows of The Garden, “including the EFSA-approved health-related claim that walnuts help improve the elasticity of blood vessels, which is a key factor in cardiovascular health.” California walnuts also have Heart Health Charity Heart UK’s heart-healthy seal of approval. The campaign focused on the global landing page of the California Walnut Commission: Other elements included digital and social media content, blog posts, competitions, influencer programs, recipes, popup events, samplings, advertisements and more. In support of the campaign, the California Walnut Commission also shared insights into the science behind plant-based omega-3 ALA, specifically heart health, brain health, and healthy aging.
Strengthen your references with California walnuts
“We are very proud of our omega-3 references and want the message to continue, especially with the professional audience,” says Peter Meadows. “Our goal is to continuously communicate the origins of California walnuts and the fact that they are a rich source of plant-based omega-3 ALA, which the human body needs but can only get from food. They also provide 4.7g of protein and 1.4g of fiber (per 30g).
“Manufacturers are increasingly interested in developing products that offer added value for consumers. If they are able to improve the nutritional content of their products with natural ingredients like California walnuts and boost their nutritional profile, it will be a win for everyone.
“There are many ways to enjoy California walnuts, not just in traditional uses like snacks and baking, but also in exciting new dishes and products like ground beef substitutes for the herbivorous consumer. Our job is to show the UK trade how to use them more and more in everyday products, and to demonstrate how walnuts really are one of the most versatile nuts on the market, with an added USP – plant-based vegetable omega-3. ”
On a vegetable basis, walnuts are also driven
Consumer appreciation for the nutritional benefits of California walnuts is also currently being fueled by the growing interest in plant-based nutrition, which is fueling interest in natural ingredients, especially nuts. The Vegan Society estimates that there are around 600,000 vegans in the UK, up from 150,000 in 2006, and twice as many women as men are vegans. Quite a few athletes and footballers have committed themselves to veganism.
Why California Walnuts?
California’s Central Valley offers ideal conditions for the sustainable cultivation of premium quality walnuts. California walnuts are generally lighter in color and sweet-mild in taste with a soft, creamy texture. This makes it a versatile ingredient for various flavor profiles and recipes, as well as for processed products.
California walnuts come in a variety of sizes and colors based on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards for peeled walnuts. The California walnut industry has built a reputation for producing the highest quality walnuts in the world while maintaining an exceptional food safety record for a century. California walnuts are grown, harvested, and processed according to strict federal and state food safety regulations. The finished product often exceeds the quality standards set by the USDA. The UK is primarily a market for shelled walnuts, although walnuts in their shells are still major snack and Christmas sellers. When using shelled walnuts in food production, it is important to properly store walnuts to extend their shelf life and maintain their delicious taste. Peter Meadows: “Cold storage is the key and ensures that they are not stored next to other ingredients with strong odors such as onions or spices, as walnuts take on these aromas.”
We will support you
The California Walnut Commission (CWC) works closely with manufacturers here and around the world to develop new products using California walnuts and provide marketing support as necessary. This activity includes using the California Walnut Origin Logo on packaging, product launch assistance, point of sale and promotions, and inclusion in commercial news and reports from the California walnut industry.
It’s show time
CWC will use virtual shows and conferences, as well as physical food fairs, to bring the message across to food manufacturers and others about making food with California walnuts when they return, says Peter Meadows, UK sales representative for California walnuts 2021 and California Walnuts omega-3 content will be an integral part of the communication. Trade shows, exhibitions and conferences provide valuable opportunities to get in touch with UK retailers and network with current and lesser-known brands. Due to Covid-19, we do not foresee any physical events until next year, but discussions are ongoing about virtual events. “
“In the meantime, we’d like to share ideas with manufacturers and product developers and help them capitalize on the interest in omega-3s and the fact that California walnuts are a plentiful source and consistently high standards. At the same time, we have to continuously communicate that proper cold storage and just-in-time preparation of the ingredients ensures a product of better quality for a longer period of time. “