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Is Vegan Walnut Cheese the Next Big Thing?

Increased demand, production, and application could position the versatile and nutrient-dense walnut for significant growth this year.

A report compiled by media outlet Foodnavigator states walnut production in California doubled over the past decade as demand has increased worldwide, creating more opportunities for the nuts’ use. “We’ve explored a formula for a walnut ‘cheese’ spread,” California Walnut Board Executive Director Michelle Connelly said, “and that’s definitely an area where walnuts could be a great fit, and there are also opportunities in dairy-free yogurts and meat alternatives.” Products such as walnut milk from Elmhurst Milked, walnut butter from Artisana Organics, and flavored walnut snacks from Crazy Go Nuts support Connelly’s projection. “There are also a couple of other exciting application areas in the works that we can’t talk about just yet that will be launching in early summer,” Connelly hinted. As the only nut with a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acid ALA per serving, walnuts are known to have a myriad of health benefits including maintaining brain and heart health, lowering cholesterol, and combatting free radicals. “We’ve got a really long-term commitment to health research and consumers have really responded to it,” Connelly said. “We’re involved in ‘all-nut’ research, but there’s also a lot of research out there specifically on walnuts, which do have a different nutritional profile.”

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