Argentina is the largest peanut producer in Latin America, and the seventh largest producer in the world. Nonetheless, it is the first peanut exporter worldwide.
Peanuts are not a commodity, as mistakenly considered, but rather a processed food product, an agricultural manufacture with extraordinary added value.
Peanuts in International Trade
Botanically, peanuts are considered legumes, but in the framework of international trade, they are listed under the chapter of nuts or dried fruit.
European food legislation provides specific rules for peanuts, and adopts the term groundnuts to designate them.
American rules classify them in the group of edible nuts, and in international trade they are referred to simply as peanuts.
The Peanut Agro-industrial Sector manufactures and exports the following products, among others:
- HPS Peanuts (Shelled, Blanched, Splits, Chopped, Sliced)
- Coated and/or flavored peanuts (Snacks)
- Peanut paste
- Peanut butter
- Unrefined and refined Peanut oil
- Peanut flour
- Peanut pellets and expellers
Unlike China, India, Nigeria, Brazil, Senegal and other origins, Argentina and the United States compete in the high-quality peanut market for human consumption.
Although an unknown fact in our own country, Argentine Peanuts is -implicitly- a trademark that identifies a valued and prestigious product among the most demanding consumers worldwide.
The peanuts we eat belong to the species Arachis hypogaea L., an annual herbaceous plant, of the Fabaceae botanical family (legume), which grows upright or trails. The fruit is a seed carried inside a pod, called shell, that grows underground, containing one to four seeds per shell, depending on the plant variety. Argentina produces High Oleic peanuts, marked by a higher oleic acid content (omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid) than linoleic acid (omega-6 monounsaturated fatty acid).
The consumption of peanuts and peanut products is a well-established dietary habit in many countries. Peanuts are consumed worldwide for their pleasant flavor, multiple uses and nutritional value. In Argentina, they are consumed as roasted or fried snacks; caramel-coated peanuts, peanut nougat and praline; as candy, coated or chocolate-coated, or in chocolate tablets and bars. Peanut is the main ingredient in the semi-hard slab, similar to nougat, made popular by the trademark Mantecol.
According to a survey conducted by the Argentine Peanut Chamber, 51% of Argentine consumers choose peanuts as their favorite nut, 23% choose almonds, 21% walnuts and 5% hazelnuts.
Although in-depth studies on the Argentine domestic market are not available, per capita consumption has been estimated at 1 kilogram per capita per year, substantially lower than other traditional consuming countries like the members of the European Union, where consumption amounts to 5 kilograms per capita, or China with consumption in excess of 10.54 kilograms.
Since 2018, the CAM has conducted the Maníparamí (Peanut for me) campaign, which seeks to promote peanut consumption in Argentina by communicating its nutritional features and versality as a food.