Detection and Eradication of Bitter Almonds

Bitter almonds pose a serious problem for us in terms of quality. Some markets are hesitant to buy Spanish almonds because of the possible presence of bitter almonds. If we want to increase the value of our product and gain access to all markets, this problem needs to be eradicated.

Unió Nuts is a participant in the Bitter Almond Detection and Eradication Task Force, which has the goal of eradicating bitter almonds from the Spanish market, thereby increasing the quality of Spanish almonds for export. The task force also establishes guidelines to raise awareness of this problem among the proper authorities, so that they can make the appropriate decisions on removing trees that produce bitter almonds in the field.

The Bitter Almond Detection and Eradication Task Force is also working to prevent the entry of bitter almonds into production processes, beginning in the orchards but continuing with reception centres and processing lines:

  • In the field: geolocalisation and mapping of trees in commercial orchards where the presence of bitter almonds is detected, both for trees grown using conventional methods and those subject to organic cultivation.
  • At reception centres: use of spectroscopic techniques to control the entry of bitter almonds.
  • On processing lines: calibration and validation of on-line NIR hyperspectral equipment that can remove bitter almonds one-by-one. 

What will Unió be doing?

In order to offer products derived from Spanish almonds with the best organoleptic qualities possible, and without the presence of bitter almonds, Unió will be working at two distinct levels:

  • We will be monitoring orchards to control and geolocalise trees that produce bitter almonds.
  • We will be perfecting a methodology based on NIR spectroscopy to detect the presence of bitter almonds in the deliveries we receive at our facilities. We will perform analysis on all incoming almonds received during the season.

The Inter-regional Task Force on Detection and Eradication of Bitter Almonds has been approved by Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. This task force is being coordinated by the association of Spanish Almond and Hazelnut Exporters (ALMENDRAVE), with participation by the Spanish Association of Nut and Carob Producers (AEOFRUSE), the National Association of Almond Shellers (DESCALMENDRA), and the companies Unió Nuts, Mañan, Crisol, Arboreto and Borges.

This project to eradicate bitter almonds has an implementing budget of 573.999 euros and it is part of the support to Operational Groups of the European Innovation Association, whose objective is to increase agricultural productivity and sustainability through National Program of Rural Development (NPRD) 2014-2020, in its 2018 call.

The works are funded at 80% by European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and at 20% by Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, through Royal Decree 169/2018 (23rd March 2018). 

The agency responsible for the content of this project is the Operational Group: Detection and Eradication of Bitter Almonds, with the General Management for Rural Development, Innovation and Forest Policy being the Authority in charge of managing the application of the ERDF and corresponding national grants.

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