Confectionery sector remains key market for almond inclusions

The confectionery sector remains the most popular segment for product ranges with almond ingredients, according to latest industry research, writes Neill Barston.

Among key study findings from Innova Market Insights, the prized nut variety accounted for 41 percent of 12,181 new inclusions globally during 2020.

The continued rise in almond popularity comes amid a sustained health focus among consumers around the world, highly valuing personal wellbeing amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic impacting on economies around the world.

As Innova’s research found, confectionery remains the top category for almond introductions in Europe and the Middle East & Africa, while snacks leads in Latin America and Asia-Pacific, and bars in North America.

Consequently, with more people working from home, the cereals category grew by 27 percent to move back into the top five categories, reclaiming its spot from the dairy market in 2019.

According to the research group, as global consumers become more engaged in purchasing food products fitting their specific lifestyle choices, the latest findings revealed by the Global New Products Report demonstrate almonds are a key ingredient in new introductions that are tailored to fit consumers’ health goals.

Almonds are considered a nutrient-rich snack among consumers in North America, in many countries across Europe and in Latin America. Heart-friendliness, weight management and improved memory rank among the top health-related benefits associated with almonds in these regions.

The nut variety has been lauded for its vitamin E content and riboflavin, wit one-ounce serving of almonds provides six grams of protein and four grams of fibre.

In its research, Innova also found that gluten free increased its share by two percent to maintain its position as the top health claim (26%) associated with almonds for on-pack claims, followed by vegan (18%) and high/source of protein (16%). This year, a key highlight as plant-based food products become more mainstream, the report found that almonds are the number one nut for plant-based claims.

“We experienced an unprecedented year in 2020 due to the global disruptions caused by COVID-19 to the food industry. However, food developers should be encouraged by almonds’ versatility to speak to consumers’ increasing expectations for their food to address their health and lifestyle needs.

“Their ability to be formulated into various forms such as almond protein powder, almond flour and almond butter that can be utilised across product categories contributes to their continued standing as the world’s number one nut,” said Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights.

The Global New Products Report found that almonds are the top nut in Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America, with the Middle East & Africa being the fastest growing region for almonds in 2020. Nearly 80 percent of all new almond product introductions were in the confectionery (22%), snacks (19%), bakery (17%), bars (14%) and cereals (8%) categories.

The fastest growing category, however, is sports nutrition with a 51 percent growth rate.  Crunchy (7%), creamy (6%), crispy (4%), soft (2%) and smooth (2%) continue to be the top texture claims for new almond introductions.

“We are thrilled to see that consumers across the world continue to turn to almonds to help fulfill their nutritional goals and cravings, even in unprecedented times,” said Harbinder Maan, Associate Director, Trade Marketing and Stewardship at the Almond Board of California.

“The future is bright for almonds and we look forward to seeing new and different opportunities arise across categories in the coming year and beyond.”

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