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Accounting for two thirds of the world’s walnut trade, California walnuts’ versatility makes them the perfect choice to help customers target the demand for meat-free alternatives, offering natural ingredients which are high in fiber, rich in polyunsaturated ‘good’ fat and low in salt. Meat-free dishes made with walnuts can be just as satisfying as comparable meat-based recipes, with 30g of walnuts containing 2g of fibre.
With one third of UK consumers either reducing their meat intake or removing it from their diet altogether and Veganuary’s growing popularity as an annual fixture, retailers and foodservice operators are widening their meat-free offerings. There’s a similar move in the public catering sector, which includes hospitals, care homes and education. These key caterers are banding together to reduce the public’s meat consumption with the launch of the #20percentlessmeat campaign led by industry group PSC100, whose members have already increased the meat-free dishes on their menus and cut down the meat choices.
Why California walnuts?
California walnuts officially classify as a superfood, having won the ‘Best Superfood’ Gold Award in The Healthy Food & Drink Awards 2019. Following the California Walnut Commission’s investment in health research, the EU has confirmed the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approved claim that a daily 30g of walnuts can have a positive effect on blood vessels’ elasticity, helping maintain cardiovascular health as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.
California walnuts are nutrient-dense, rich in vitamins and minerals, and are the only tree nuts offering an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid which helps immunity.
The California Walnut Commission (CWC) represents the 4,800 plus growers and close to 100 handlers who make up the California walnut industry. More than 99% of the walnuts produced in the U.S. are grown in California’s Central Valley’s fertile soils. Established in 1987 and funded by the walnut growers, the California Walnut Commission is mainly involved in health research and export market development activities.
Pam Graviet, Senior Marketing Director International of the California Walnut Commission, says: “Other ingredient suppliers talk about “clean label” and “less salt,” which we naturally play into with a whole food ingredient – our walnuts aren’t processed into something different from what they were originally and we don’t remove fibre, which people need in their diet.”
California Walnuts in a meat free world
California Walnut Commission is actively working with manufacturers and foodservice operators around the world to develop exciting new products that replace meat with walnuts and offer additional health benefits.
Here in Europe, the award-winning German restaurant chain Hans im Glück, which has 74 restaurants and competes with McDonald’s and Burger King, offers a burger with a walnut patty, goat cheese and fig marmalade, served in sourdough, multi-grain bun or breadless.
Staying with foodservice, US operators wanting a change from textured soy protein as the base for their meat-free options are finding that walnuts are a perfect plant-based protein, delivering a savoury flavour and meat-like texture. Walnuts satisfy both flavour and texture demand and are popping up Stateside in “chorizo” tacos replacing ground beef, in burgers and in chili bowls. Walnut veggie shepherd’s pie, walnuts topped on pizza and plant-based walnut crumbles have also been making their mark.
Looking at retail, Amy’s Kitchen made-with-walnuts California Veggie Burger is a plant-based patty that is dairy-free and soy-free. Toasted walnuts are mixed with mushrooms, onions, celery, carrots, oats, garlic and potatoes. One patty contains 6g of protein and 4g of dietary fibre. Eat Nice Foods produces a Meaty Walnut ravioli that uses walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes for a “meaty” bite and taste.
Lastly, Azar’s It’s Nature Walnut Crumbles include walnuts, chorizo seasoning and sunflower oil to create a meat-free version of taco meat that can be used in tacos, burritos or on top of nachos, to customise dishes’ appearance and elevate menu items. Change the spices to Italian seasonings for a product to go on pizza or in lasagne.
Stealing the show
Here in the UK the California Walnut Commission exhibited last November at Food Matters Live 2019 at London ExCeL. Taking the theme ‘Be Inspired’ they encouraged visitors to discover the incredible quality, consistency and versatility of smooth and creamy California walnuts. CWC was the show’s official plant-based supporter, strategically positioned in the International Innovations section, near the main entrance and the plant-based pavilion.
Peter Meadows from The Garden Marketing & PR, the trade representative for California walnuts in the UK, says:
“A key objective at Food Matters Live was to embrace the plant-based movement and showcase how California walnuts can be used in a variety of ways, including replacing meat. Our overall goal in everything we do is to communicate that California walnuts offer a number of superior attributes over other origins - great taste, consistency, ideal for flavouring and texture profiles, always high quality and available all year round.”
Why California Walnuts?
The central valley in California provides ideal conditions to sustainably grow premium quality walnuts. Walnuts from California are generally lighter in colour and have a sweet-mild taste with a soft creamy texture, which makes them a versatile ingredient for flavour profiles, and texture in recipes as well as processed products.
Despite the recent challenging global situation, the California walnut industry continues its commitment to producing high-quality, nutritious and safe walnuts for consumers worldwide. The California Walnut Industry has earned a reputation for producing high quality walnuts while maintaining an exceptional food safety record for a century. California Walnuts are grown, harvested, and processed following strict Federal and State food safety regulations. Our finished product often exceeds quality standards set by the USDA.
To receive details on future California Walnut stories and trade initiatives, sign up for the UK newsletter www.californiawalnuts.uk/trade-contact
[*EFSA approved health claim / As part of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle]