Combine a poor crop with soaring consumer demand, and you have the perfect recipe for sky-high prices for one of the country's favorite snack foods.
A cold, wet winter in the United States and frost and heavy rains during Spain's prime growing season hurt global almond supplies, according to a November Department of Agriculture report. Pistachio crops were also smaller, while U.S. walnut production is expected to be down slightly.
Overall, wholesale nut and seed prices were driven 9% higher during the first 11 months of 2013. As suppliers pass the extra cost on to consumers, that could translate into even higher prices at the grocery store, said Annemarie Kuhns, an agricultural economist at the USDA.
Meanwhile, demand for nuts keeps increasing as consumers look for healthy snack options, said Matthew Hudak, research analyst at Euromonitor, a market research firm.
"There is a huge demand for nuts right now, which would be hard for any agricultural area to keep up with," he said.