SPANISH farmers are being forced to replace traditional wheat and sunflower fields with almond orchards amid a boom in global demand.
The nut’s well-publicised health benefits have seen a steady surge in its use in its natural form and in milk and flour alternatives.
World almond production has doubled in the last 10 to 12 years, from 600,000 tonnes to 1.2 million tonnes, and consumption has apparently increased at the same rate.
And Spain looks set to harvest more than 61,000 tonnes of almonds during the 2018-19 season, a record amount and a 15 per cent increase over the previous period, according to a national producers’ association.
As the world’s third largest almond producer, behind Australia and America, Spain uses almonds in many traditional desserts such as nougats.
And despite being a major producer of the nut itself, it continues to import vast quantities from California, from where 80 per cent of the world’s supply originates.
Spanish farmers have been encouraged to grow almonds due to rising prices which went from three to nine euros per kilo, four to five years ago.
They are currently getting about five euros per kilo.
As a result, the landscape is the south of the country has been transformed.
An expert on almond farming from Spanish agriculture machinery firm Agrosan, told a national newspaper that the Guadalquivir valley landscape, in the dry region of Andalusia, had changed so much in recent years that wild boar now come down from the hills to eat almonds.