Bloomberg News By Leslie Patton July 5, 2015
The almond is having its moment.
Though criticized for being a water-thirsty crop grown mostly in California, almonds are more popular than ever. And spreads made from the tree nut are increasingly supplanting peanut butter in U.S. lunch boxes and pantries. Americans are eating about 2 pounds of almonds per person annually, double the amount they consumed just seven years ago.
Protein-rich Paleo diets, peanut-butter allergies and evolving
tastes have all fueled demand. That’s sent major U.S. food makers such as Hain Celestial Group Inc. and JM Smucker Co. into the market, where they’re vying against smaller suppliers. Almond butter now comes in a range of flavors, including maple and dark chocolate.
But the almond craze has come at a cost. The growth in consumption -- coupled with smaller crops...