Walnut Community

The recent growth of the specialty foods category has surprised even the most seasoned food industry expert. Here’s the proof, according to the Specialty Food Association’s State of the Specialty Food Industry 2022-2023.

  • The total specialty food market recorded sales of $175 billion
  • Of those sales, brick and mortar retail accounted for the largest share at $91 billion
  • The nuts, trail mix and dried fruit category was one of the fastest growing segments of all specialty food categories

It’s a big market that’s trending upward, which is surprising considering inflation’s impact on food prices. It’s less surprising, however, when you look at the major trends from this year’s Winter Fancy Food Show, which is a mecca for specialty foods:

  • Elevated convenience: Most Americans are back to their normal pre-pandemic routines, which often translates to an on-the-go lifestyle. As a result, convenient foods are making a big comeback. However, expectations are higher and specialty food manufacturers are responding by using high quality ingredients, such as walnuts, in everything from food bars to trail mixes.
  • Global dips and sauces: Americans’ adventurous palates are driving the market for all types of global cuisines, especially in the dips and sauces category. The show floor was full of food brands with interesting takes on traditional global items positioned for American consumers. For example, Haig’s Delicacies exhibited a line of Mediterranean-inspired dips and spreads. Our favorite is the Muhammara, which is a savory blend of pomegranates, roasted red peppers and ground walnuts.
  • Cheese and charcuterie: Who knew makers of cutting boards would be in such high demand in 2023? Charcuterie, butter boards and more reigned supreme at the Winter Fancy Food Show, and we saw some amazing pre-packaged displays on the show floor, many of which featured a variety of seasoned walnuts ranging from sweet to savory to spicy sweet.

This year’s Winter Fancy Food Show proved that consumers are willing to pay more for specialty products as long as they deliver on popular trends, flavor and whole food/clean label nutrition. Many of the best products at this year’s show had one thing in common: walnuts.

Walnuts elevate specialty foods by delivering a premium position in products marketed as either indulgent or nutritious. Here are some of our favorite made-with-walnut specialty foods we saw at this year’s Winter Fancy Food Show.

Seasoned Walnuts, Unbound Snacks

New branding was on display for this “elevated convenience” snack that combines nutritious walnuts with on-trend seasonings such as Chili Lime, Butter Toffee, Cinnamon and Sea Salt & Pepper.

Mole Negro De Oaxaca, Mimole

This trending “global sauce” uses walnuts to provide a subtle sweetness and creamy mouthfeel. The black mole does not contain any artificial colors or flavors.

Walnut Biscuits, Effie’s Homemade

The perfect biscuit for charcuterie boards features a dynamic flavor profile of walnuts, dried cranberries and fennel. According to the company, the walnut biscuits are the perfect complement to alpine cheeses, spicy red wine and a variety of beer styles.

Baklava Walnuts, Zalatimo Sweets

Walnuts play a starring role in this traditional baklava that features layers of hand-prepared filo dough filled with walnuts and sealed with a special sweet syrup.

The California Walnut Commission works with specialty food manufacturers and brands to develop new products with walnuts. Email us to schedule a virtual consultation.

Generated with Avocode.Generated with Avocode.