60-second interview: Jeff Smith, Director of Marketing, Blue Diamond Almonds Global Ingredients Division

What’s for breakfast? Nuts! (And preferably almonds, says Blue Diamond.)

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Related tags: Almonds, Breakfast, Nutrition

What’s for breakfast? Almonds, says Blue Diamond...
For many Americans, breakfast has switched from being one of three square meals a day to just another snacking occasion – or something to skip altogether.  But this brings opportunities as well as challenges, says Blue Diamond’s Jeff Smith, who we caught up with as part of our ‘What’s for Breakfast?’ special edition.   

So almonds work well in breakfast cereal... but aren’t cereal sales going backwards?

Despite being part of a category that declined in dollars, units and volume in 2014, ready-to-eat cereal cereals with almond products posted gains across the board and continued to increase share of the category.

According to a 2014 Nielsen Report supplied by the Almond Board of California, almonds strengthened their position as the clear number one nut within the ready-to-eat cereal category with over half of all nut sales and nearly 6% share of the total category.

While the total RTE cereal category declined by 3.9% in volume sales, RTE cereal with almonds was up 3.3%. 

Are nutrition bars a breakfast growth opportunity?

Absolutely. Consumers continue to look for products that can be consumed on-the-go with a health component. When it comes to nutrition bars for breakfast, many are looking to replace an actual meal with the bar, so there is a lot to consider. Almonds are a great partner in this endeavor, as they already are high in protein, are an excellent source of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, are high in vitamin E, copper, fiber, phosphorous and riboflavin.

An almond inclusion – whether it be whole almonds, sliced or diced almonds or the addition of almond flour, adds to the total protein and nutrition content, which is very important when looking for a quick meal replacement.

While all nuts are a good source of plant-based protein, when compared ounce-for-ounce, almonds have the most protein of any tree nut—another advantage for food manufacturers looking for a satiating formulation while helping to keep the ingredient line as short as possible.

What else is for breakfast today?

Many people turn to yogurt for a healthy breakfast item.  When combined with almonds, you end up with a breakfast that is heart healthy, high in protein and can be consumed on-the go.  

In general, we have seen the use of almonds expand in the yogurt category, particularly in Greek yogurts. Almonds add two great sensory characteristics to yogurt that are popular with consumers – texture and crunch. The “crunch factor” has definitely become a hot button and consumers love the mouth feel of a crunchy almond inclusion. This has been a driver in many new product formulations – getting that crunch factor in something like a granola blend-in which the consumer adds.   

Current wellness trends point to a demand of products with a high protein and fiber content, yet portable, satiating and the ability to personalize it. Almonds check all of these boxes, which is why we’ve been able to stay on top of this trend, as breakfast continues to reinvent itself.

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