why nuts are so expensive

Nuts have gone through a transformative period in the last few centuries.

When buying nuts, you may feel some surprise over how expensive they can get.

There’s no question that, because nuts now have a reputation for being healthy, the price for them has increased.

Nuts are healthy in a few different ways.

One of the most important is that they contain omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids play several key roles in keeping your body healthy.

One of their most important jobs is to keep the membranes surrounding your cells healthy.

Without a healthy membrane, the cell can become infected more easily.

They also provide benefits for your heart and brain.

The problem is that your body doesn’t produce omega-3 fatty acids on its own.

You can only obtain them through your diet.

Eating certain types of nuts is one way that you can do this.

Other nuts can help clear your skin and keep it healthy.

Since we now realize that nuts are healthy, that means demand for them has increased.

People, more than ever, are looking for foods that make them healthier.

As such, there’s always a lot of demand for healthier foods.

Nuts are among them.

Since the demand for nuts is high, the cost of nuts is also high.

Nuts are expensive because they’re healthy.

2. Difficult To Grow

cluster of hazelnuts hanging from the branches of a twisted hazel tree.

Another reason nuts are expensive is that they’re difficult to grow.

Nuts come from trees.

Like other plants, tree nuts require a specific climate in which to grow.

Specifically, they require planting in Zone 9.

Zone 9’s climate includes hot temperatures in the summer and mild winters with little snow.

There is only one area in the world that has Zone 9.

That’s a ring close to the equator that wraps around the world.

Considering that most of the area around the equator is water, that leaves only a few land spaces to actually grow tree nuts.

People have tried to grow tree nuts elsewhere, but they grow best in Zone 9 if they grow at all.

Since there’s limited space to grow tree nuts, that means there’s reduced production.

They’re not available for widespread farming like potatoes or corn.

Farmers can only fit so many on their plots of land.

This problem is further worsened because of the rise in popularity of Zone 9 living.

The area is warm and practically tropical.

As such, many people want to live there or vacation there.

This has led to an increase in farmers selling their farms to developers.

The developers then get rid of the tree nut farms and build high-rises and other homes instead.

This reduces the number of farmed tree nuts even more.

Nuts are expensive because they’re difficult to grow and the area in which they grow is valuable for humans.

3. Low Yield

Woman holding organic almond nuts in hands, closeup

Another problem that makes nuts expensive is the low yield that the trees produce.

Even when planted in their preferred climates, some nuts only give a small yield.

Some parts of the nuts aren’t even usable.

The shells, for example, aren’t always digestible.

That means a good portion of the nut might not see use.

Cashews, for example, are actually toxic to humans.

The shells, in particular, are toxic.

To sell cashews, manufacturers de-shell them, then roast them.

That makes cashews safe to eat.

They toss out the rest of the cashew.

Since nuts only produce a small yield, that means that supply is extremely low.

Since demand for nuts is high, the low supply drives their prices higher.

Nuts are expensive because they don’t produce high yields like other crops.

4. Long Growth

Tasty brasil nuts on wooden background

Some nuts also face long periods of growth.

The best example is the Brazil nut.

The Brazil nut is one of the most expensive nuts on the market.

That’s because they’re difficult to obtain.

They’re found deep in the jungles of South America.

They rely on the trees around them to germinate them.

Because of this, they only grow in areas that haven’t seen human development yet.

They’re also quite large and deliver a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

The problem is that it takes around 14 months for the nut to fully grow.

Since Brazil nut farms are difficult, if not impossible, to manage, most sellers have to hire people to pick the nuts by hand.

Not only is this dangerous since the jungle is full of predators, but it also means they have to wait until the nut stops growing.

They have to wait a year for the nut to finish its growth.

That means the supply of Brazil nuts is extremely low.

With demand high for this rare type of nut, the price for them is high.

Nuts like the Brazil nut require a long time to grow.

Because of that, they have a limited supply which makes its price increase.

5. Bee Pollination

bee Macro specimen, Flying insect , side front back

While the Brazil nut relies on trees to germinate it, other tree nuts rely on bees.

Honeybees provide several functions in society.

They’re responsible for germinating plants that society relies on for food and health.

Without bees, the plants will struggle to reproduce.

As a result, the yield of those plants decreases substantially.

This is a problem that the nut industry faces, too.

To keep their trees germinating, manufacturers have two choices.

They can either buy a queen honeybee and start creating nests for them to pollinate their trees, or they can hire a beekeeper.

The first option will save them time and money over the long term.

They’ll only need to pay for maintenance costs to ensure the health of the hive.

Those who choose to hire a beekeeper will face higher costs over the long term, though they will save money in the short term.

Manufacturers will hire a beekeeper who will bring their hive of bees to the orchard.

They’ll then release the bee into the area and allow them to germinate the trees.

Once the trees are pollinated, the beekeeper will collect their bees and head off to the next client.

Beekeepers are experts in all things regarding honeybees.

They know how to handle them and encourage them to germinate certain plants.

Their expertise comes at a high price.

They also have to drive long distances to reach their clients.

All the while, they need to make sure that their queen honeybee is healthy.

If she dies, then there’s a chance that the entire hive will die if a replacement isn’t found.

This problem worsens when considering the decline of honeybee populations.

As honeybees decrease in population, the services of the beekeepers become even more important and valuable.

The cost of a nut is high because of the use of honeybees to germinate tree nuts.

6. Nut Extraction

Walnuts kernels on dark desk with color background

Manufacturing nuts isn’t as easy as picking them up off of the ground.

Getting access to the actual nut inside of the shell is a lengthy process.

While some nuts can go through a factory, not all of them have this luxury.

Pine nuts, for example, have to go through a manual process.

Workers will manually extract the nut from within the pinecone.

Since the process is delicate, it takes a lot of time for the workers to access the nut.

It’s easy to try and go too fast only to crack the nut in the process.

This wastes their money and the efforts they had applied beforehand.

Because of this, manufacturing costs are often high on some nuts.

If you notice that the prices of certain nuts are higher than others, then it’s likely because the extraction process is by hand.

7. Weight Loss

Slim young woman measuring her thin waist with a tape measure, close up

Back in the day, the common belief was that nuts added to weight gain.

That was because nuts contain a lot of fat.

While this is true if you eat an excessive number of nuts, it isn’t true for the general public who eats nuts for snacks or as additions to their meals.

In reality, nuts have actually helped people lose weight.

That’s because nuts usually come salted.

This provides a savory snack that can help the body feel full.

When it feels full, it doesn’t drive your appetite into demanding more food.

You’re able to diet successfully when you add nuts as a snack to your diet plan.

The fact that it contains Omega-3 fatty acids can also help you lose weight.

Besides protecting your cells, they also play a role in the regulation of your hormone or endocrine system.

Hormones have a close association with your metabolism.

When your hormones are functioning at their best, then your metabolism is also functioning at its best.

This means it’s easier for your body to use energy from the food that you ate instead of storing it as fat for use later.

Since nuts help people lose weight, there’s often a lot of demand for them.

People looking to lose weight and build muscle will buy nuts for their protein value and ability to help them avoid bad snacking habits.

Since there’s increased demand for them from this specific category of people, it makes the nuts more expensive.

Any time that category of people grows, it only increases the demand further.

Nuts are expensive because of the role they play in weight loss.

8. Plant-Based Derivatives

Almond milk in small glasses and spilled dry almonds on old wood

As more people are moving toward a plant-based diet and live a plant-based lifestyle, many are turning to plant-based substitutes for milk, butter, and other dairy products.

To answer that demand, many nut manufacturers have started to produce plant-based products around their nuts.

Almond milk is one of the more popular products.

However, you can also find cashew milk and even cashew ice cream.

Almond milk isn’t new, however.

They’ve been producing almond milk since the medieval era.

Back then, they’d soak ground almonds in water, then slowly sift it through a cloth.

While modern technology has helped speed up the process, it hasn’t reduced the demand for this type of milk.

Nuts often have the closest flavor to the original dairy product.

Because of that, vegans, vegetarians, and other plant-based dieters buy nut-based foods as their main choices.

It tastes good, and it comes from a plant.

As manufacturers continue to find ways to add nuts to products to make them plant-based, you can be sure that people are going to continue to buy them.

This, however, impacts the price of nuts.

Since some nuts now go towards making plant-based derivatives, that means that are fewer nuts sold as they are.

With supply decreasing, those looking to buy nuts as a snack or as an addition to their meal will have to pay more for them.

Nuts are expensive because of their popular use in plant-based products.

9. Imported Nuts

Assorted nuts in wooden bowls on sackcloth

You may notice a big difference between nuts based on whether they’re imported or not.

Nuts grown domestically tend to be cheaper.

That’s because they go through fewer shipping routes to reach your location.

Imported nuts, on the other hand, are more expensive.

Nuts have to go through a pricey and lengthy process to reach other countries.

Because it’s always possible that pathogens, parasites, or pests may have hitched a ride with the nuts, they often have to go through some inspections.

Countries are usually wary of allowing certain invasive species into the country.

These species can hitch a ride on nuts and other plants.

Because a lot of care has to go into the shipping of the products, it means manufacturers tend to pay higher shipping costs.

They also need to ensure that the nuts make it to their destination in one piece.

No one wants to buy a tin of nuts that are all crushed up.

Since it costs more for manufacturers to ship nuts, you can be sure that those who are selling the nuts mark up the prices to cover the cost of shipping.

Imported nuts are more expensive than domestic nuts.

10. Security Costs

Flat lay with nuts in spoons on wooden tabletop

Although it may seem surprising, nut thieves are a real problem.

Because nuts are valuable, many thieves look to steal crates of them to resell.

California, which is the US’s leading nut producer, often cites problems with nut thieves.

To protect their assets, many nut farmers end up employing security forces.

They’ll have some security guards, build walls, or even install security technology to monitor their warehouses and trees.

All these things end up costing them more money.

As a result, the prices of their nuts increase since they have to take on more costs to produce and sell their nuts in the first place.

They have to pay their security forces or pay the extra fees associated with their security monitoring service.

Since the stores or manufacturers then have to pay more for the nuts, they increase the final price tag for their customers.

As a result, customers see an increased nut price.

Besides the cost of security, thievery also means that the farmers have less to sell each year.

Since the supply is even smaller, and the demand has remained the same for them, the price of nuts increases.

Nuts are expensive because thieves have forced farmers to take on expensive costs to ensure the safety of their nuts and trees.

How To Save Money On Nuts

Bowls of nuts

If you tend to eat a lot of nuts, then you may wonder how you can save money and still enjoy your favorite salty snack.

There are a few ways that you can buy nuts and still save money.

Try these methods to save money on nuts.

1. Buy In Bulk

One of the best aspects of nuts is that you can often find them for sale in bulk sizes.

Bulk sizing means you’ll get a large number of nuts for a discounted price.

The price tends to be higher than a package of nuts, but you usually end up with more nuts that last a bit longer than if you had bought several packages of nuts.

You can find bulk sizes for most nuts except for the extremely rare ones.

Depending on where you shop, you may even be able to add coupons or deals on top of your bulk shopping for even more discounted rates.

Perhaps the best aspect of buying in bulk is that you have a lot of nuts for all the uses you may have for them.

2. Freeze Nuts

Once you have all your nuts, you may worry about them losing their flavor.

Although nuts can last for some time before going stale, they do have a life expectancy.

You can store the nuts that you aren’t eating any time soon in the freezer.

They freeze quite well and don’t require many steps to prepare them for freezing.

You can toss them into a bag, then simply place them in the freezer for later.

This ensures that you don’t waste any of the nuts that you buy.

3. Shop At Sam’s Club

You can shop at one of the membership clubs like Sam’s Club to find nuts for sale by the gallon.

The hitch is that these nuts are often mixed.

Therefore, if you want a specific type of nut, then you’re out of luck.

However, if you don’t mind mixed nuts, then buying the gallon mix at Sam’s Club can save you a lot of money and give you a ton of nuts that can last you quite some time.


Nuts are expensive because of their difficulty in growth and harvesting.

Some farmers even have to hire security to ensure their nuts make it to their destinations safely.

You can save on nut purchases by buying in bulk and taking advantage of any warehouse stores and their discounts.

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