Hyderabad, Mar 21 (PTI) India has emerged as the largest importer of almonds from the US during August 2016 to February 2017, a senior Almond Board of California official said here today.

During the crop year 2015-16, India had stood third behind China and Spain, in terms of such imports from the US at 126 million pounds.

“From August 2016 to February this year, we have already shipped 120 million pounds, which is 59 per cent growth. That has propelled India to become the largest export destination for California almonds (overtaking China and Spain),” the Almond Board of California’s (ABC’s) Regional Director, India, Sudarshan Mazumdar told PTI.

The ABC looks at India as a market of great potential and importance. This is a reason for the board to continue to invest in resources to run and support an active marketing, trade and market access programme in the country, he said.

“This year, the market is growing and we expect the import figures (for India) to grow further and we are expecting that within this year or next year, we see a demand for 166 million pounds,” Mazumdar said.

Almonds offer a lot of health benefits and it is good for heart and weight management and also in controlling diabetes, he said.

“It has got very strong nutrient profile in terms of highest anti-oxidants amongst nuts. The Board aims to build awareness around the multiple nutritional benefits of consuming almonds every day post validating them through learnings obtained from various nutrition researchers,” the Regional Director said.

As part of the India programme, the ABC engages with consumers, health care professionals, importers, food companies, government and regulatory agencies to educate on health benefits of almonds.

According to Mazumdar, California grows over 82 per cent of the world production of almonds followed by Australia.

“One-third of almond production in the US is consumed within the country and Canada, and the rest is exported to 90 countries,” he added.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.