Almonds a key ingredient in healthy snacking

18 Apr 2018

More almond-containing products were launched in Europe than in any other region in the world in 2016, as the trend toward healthier snacking has given the nuts a major boost.

Almonds a key ingredient in healthy snacking
almonds have become increasingly popular as a snack

Almonds tap into a range of current European food trends, such as clean label, gluten free and plant-based, making them a popular choice for food companies looking to provide natural, healthy, and energising products. California produces 83% of the world’s almonds, and in 2017, 27% of those were destined for Europe. In 2016, 47% of all new products with almonds were launched in Europe and, for the second year running, almonds were used in more new European products than any other nut.

Over the last 15 years, almonds have become increasingly popular as a snack and as an ingredient in chocolate, bakery, bars, nut butters and beverages. “Through our marketing campaigns in Europe, almonds have moved from being perceived as just a baking ingredient to a healthy, nutritious and sustainable snack,” said Dariela Roffe-Rackind, Director, Europe and Global Public Relations at The Almond Board of California.

Plant-based milk alternatives

Almonds have also been one of the most popular source ingredients for plant-based milk alternatives, a booming market. Plant-based milks from almonds outstripped those made from soy in 2017, accounting for 22% of new global product launches, according to Mintel.

“Nowhere is the versatility of almonds more prevalent than in the move towards dairy alternatives,” said Roffe-Rackind. “…Between 2013 and 2017, the use of almonds as the base of a new drink product in Europe nearly doubled – and is likely to continue to rise.”

Companies that use Californian almonds can also tap into a wide range of resources, including market and consumer insights and help with formulation challenges, she said. “They should know that we are a research-based organization. We produce credible, high-level research into almond nutrition, quality and food safety, responsible farming practices and agricultural innovation, consumer research – all this research is available to our industry, partners, and manufacturers.”

Sustainable practices ensure long term supply

Sustainability is another key area for the Almond Board, which has had to contend with a major drought in California, one of the most severe on record.

Although almonds require a good deal of water, they are not the thirstiest crop in the region. The crop per tree has been shrinking year-on-year, but the Almond Board has invested in research to improve water use and has implemented water-saving strategies that have cut the amount of water needed to produce a kilogram of almonds by 33% over the past decade.

Roffe-Rackind says this benefits not only the almond industry, but improves California’s sustainability as a whole.

“The fact that the majority of almond farms in California are fewer than 100 acres, and nearly 90% are family farms, many operated by third and fourth generation family growers, means that almond farmers recognise – and take very seriously – the need to carefully manage resources for current and future generations.”

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