Importaco Group targets snacks markets with major increase in nut production

Spanish-based nut and dried fruit market leader, Importaco Group, has reported plans to double its food ingredients market share by raising raw material production to 25,000 metric tons by 2024, reports Neill Barston

As the business explained to Confectionery Production, it has invested over €6 million in the last three years across its European factories specialising in peanuts and almonds (Spain and Poland), which includes a focus on the snacks and chocolate-coated product sector.

To help facilitate its ambition, the business recently entered into a majority stake strategic partnership with Italian peer Besana, acquiring a strong retail distribution capability in Italy, the UK, Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia and Eastern European countries.

Besana already occupies a strong market leadership position in ingredients, especially in the hazelnut, cashew, seeds and chocolate market segment. The partnership and its 17 worldwide factories will increase Importaco Group’s customer base and product range.

The company (which has its own technical development facilities, below), has also created its own ‘Tailor-Made Design’ programme to facilitate innovative products to the needs of clients across the concept, design, production, and implementation process. A project team of 40 staff helps launch over 40 new unique products each year adapted to customer need in terms of quality, food safety and sustainability.

In addition to an increased focus on ingredients, it has also strengthened its sustainability credentials. During the International Dried Nut & Fruit Conference (INC) held at the end of November 2020, Importaco’s President, Toño Pons, outlined how the firm’s “Future Nut Strategy” and sustainability initiatives are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), contributing to 11 of the 17 SDGs.

Importaco has invested €1 million in improving energy efficiencies in the last year alone, resulting in a 14,800 ton reduction in CO2 (-8%). This CO2 reduction has been achieved thanks to the utilisation of renewable energy across Importaco’s operations. Importaco’s climate action plan also unveils a move towards 100% renewable electricity use and recyclable packaging (91% currently) by 2023.

Speaking after the conference, Toño Pons (below) said, “Importaco is a customer-first company. We are committed to being close to the origin of the ingredients to identify, monitor and design the perfect product for our ‘nutsumer’. In today’s market, health is of paramount importance for consumers, with nut consumption on the increase due to their high source of nutrients and illness mitigating properties. Health and wellbeing will act as an ever-increasing driver for the market”. He added, “Equally, as a company with a social conscience, we must play a role in combatting climate change, and are committed to a more sustainable future.”

Sustainability is at the core of Importaco’s operations. The company has a strong commitment to sustainably-sourced products, with nearly 60% of its Spanish almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds and corn sustainably sourced. Importaco is also a member of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative which has a goal of a 100% sustainable sourcing of all almonds and peanuts by 2022. Importaco is committed to maintaining a sustainable supply chain across its four pillars – food safety, quality, sustainability and social compliance.

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