As food and beverage trends evolve, almonds continue to possess undeniable consumer appeal, aligning with growing demand for transparency, plant-forward innovation, holistic and personalized nutrition, and tantalizing sensory experiences. In fact, Innova research shows that global almond product introductions continue to rise. Almonds experienced double-digit growth (+13%) between 2018 and 2019, with 12,206 new almond products introduced globally.
Innova Market Insights recently unveiled its annual Top Ten Trends for 2021, which spotlight five key trends to consider when formulating with almonds:
This leading trend incorporates both clean living lifestyles and demands for information on sustainable sourcing. Three in five global consumers say that they are interested in "learning more about where their food comes from and how it is made." Consumers want to know what a product contains, including health-driven factors such as natural, organic, no additives or artificial ingredients, as well as clean label features.
Transparency can be noted through product names, such as Endangered Species Chocolate Dark Chocolate With Cranberries And Almonds (North America, Middle East) highlighting the company's donations toward wildlife efforts.
The increasingly mainstream appeal of plant-based products and ingredients is driving expansion to more market categories and regions. Both vegetarian and vegan claims are plant-forward by design and are prevalent on product launches with almonds. In 2019, vegan was the fifth most used health claim on all product introductions. Vegetarian was the second top health claim in total product launches with almonds, the first claim on snacks, and the third most widely used claim in bakery products.
Plant-forward claims like vegan and vegetarian were among the top health claims in new confectionery products with almonds in 2019, and can be seen on products such as Veganz White Roasted Almond Chocolate (Germany) and Harts Natural Vegana Almond Chocolate Protein Vegan Bar (Brazil).
Tailored to Fit
Personalized nutrition is in the spotlight as consumers look for foods and beverages that fit their unique lifestyles. Snacking expands opportunities for consumers to tailor their eating pattern to meet their personalized needs. One-third of global consumers surveyed say that "snacks support my busy lifestyle profile." Younger consumers look for healthy and on-the-go snack and meal options and seek balance with opportunities to rewind and relax with premium, indulgent treats.
Almonds are featured in several lifestyle categories and sub-categories, including confectionery, snacks, cereal bars, energy bars, and nut mixes, the preferred savory afternoon snack for the on-the-go, health-seeking consumer. In Chile, Your Goal Dates and Almond Paleo Bar is positioned as a snack-worthy product for followers of the Paleolithic diet.
Mood: The Next Occasion
Holistic well-being, including mental health, is more important than ever. Over half of global consumers seek products that are good for their body and give them energy, while one-third want foods and beverages that make them happy.
Chocolate, a long-time partner of almonds, is considered a mood booster. Chocolate almond butter, for example, combines the mood benefits of chocolate with textural pleasures from almonds.
Chocolate-almond confectionery is a popular vehicle for mood-boosting ingredients. Hemptastic Cocoa and Almond Hemp Bar (Germany) and pH Secrets CBD Chocolate and Almond Squares (US) are two examples in a growing marketplace for chocolate-almond confectionery products that support mood.
Product Mashups: When Trends Collide
Innova sees continued popularity for hybrid innovation. High percentages of global consumers surveyed are "interested in trying new sensory experiences" in aromas, tastes, textures, colors, and sensations, and they love to experiment with food concepts, such as hybrid products.
Almonds are frequently paired with fruit to create delightful taste and texture combinations. Innova data show a 12% average annual growth in global snack launches with almonds tracked featuring fruit ingredients (CAGR 2015-2019), including combinations like white chocolate with salted almonds and blackcurrant pieces, a nut bar with almonds, dried cherries, and dried lemons, and dried apricot.
Innovative products incorporate unique grains like quinoa (Ritter Sport Almond Quinoa 50% Cocoa Vegan Chocolate (Ukraine) and amaranth (I Amaranth Almond And Cocoa Chunks Vegan Amaranth Cookie (Mexico). Taste profile mashups such as the sweet and salty Nestle Kitkat Snak It (Australia) and Noi Crispy Seaweed with Almond Slices Hot and Spicy (Myanmar and Singapore) catch the attention of the adventurous consumer.
Innova's Top Trends for 2021 highlight numerous paths for manufacturers to meet evolving consumer demands. Year after year, almonds prevail through shifts in the food and beverage landscape, shining as an ingredient that continues to deliver innovative and unique products for global consumers who are increasingly seeking to balance health and indulgence.