The Paleo and almond milk fads have led to what’s being dubbed the “nut glut.”

By Mike Pomranz
July 17, 2020
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America has too many nuts—and not just because no one is eating peanuts at baseball games (though that’s a problem in its own right). Instead, the country apparently has a massive glut of tree nuts—like almonds, walnuts, and pecans—where increased popularity led to increased plantings which are now finally producing nuts at an unfortunately terrible time.

Close-up of mature almonds on the tree with hulls cracked open and ready for harvest near Dinuba, California.
Steve Goossen / Design Pics/Getty Images

A Google Trends search shows that interest in the Paleolithic diet spiked in 2014, with almond milk also picking up steam. These food fads may seem like ancient history as new darlings like the Ketogenic diet and oat milk stole their thunder, but nut trees take years to mature, and so tree nut farmers who were trying to take advantage of that excitement are just now fully reaping what they sow. For example, according to Modern Farmer, almond production has nearly doubled from 1.8 billion meat pounds (that means minus the shell) to 3 billion pounds since 2015.

This new production peak came at a really bad time, as Bloomberg (and common sense) points out: Not only has the pandemic thrown a wrench in food production and shipping, but America’s trade war with China—a top export destination for these nuts—still burns in the background. (Some tariffs are reportedly as high as 75 percent.) The business site says that about half of all American tree nuts are shipped outside of the country, and prices are already down 25 percent. “We’re nervous, especially for next year, with where prices are,” Bill Carriere, a farmer who is also on the California Walnut Board and California Walnut Commission, was quoted as saying. “They could get below the cost of production.”

Additionally, Carriere told Bloomberg that, just as the trees take years to mature, simply moving on to something else doesn’t make sense either. “Once the new trees are in, you’re in for 40 to 50 years,” he stated. “We’ll have to suck it up and grit our teeth and get through it.”

As a result, we may see tree nut prices continue to decline—meaning if you’ve been holding out for years to try that formerly trendy diet, now could be an affordable time to finally jump on board.