IFT 2018: Almond protein wins on sensory profile and consumer purchase intent, says Blue Diamond

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Almonds have a had a strong consumer perception for being “heart healthy” with one gram of unsaturated fat and nine grams of monounsaturated fats per 30 gram serving (according to the Almond Board of California), but can they compete on protein content?

Blue Diamond Almonds believes almonds will develop a strong-foothold in the plant-protein space, recently launching its almond protein powder, as well as an almond oil, at IFT earlier this month, marking the ingredients supplier’s first entry into functional ingredients.

Almonds haven’t necessarily been known for their protein content and according to the USDA a single one-ounce serving of raw almonds contains 6 grams of protein.

Blue Diamond Almonds’ new protein powder provides a 40% to 45% protein content and functions well as a component in a variety of protein ingredient blends because of its neutral taste and texture profile, according to Bill Morecraft, senior vice president of Global Ingredients, Blue Diamond Almonds.

“The leading advantage of the almond protein powder is really the sensory,”​ Morecraft told FoodNavigator-USA.

“It requires no masking, it really allows again for that clean ingredient statement because you don’t need any masking agents.”

Consumers’ familiarity with almonds is also an advantage, according to Morecraft. A Global Consumer Perceptions report by Sterling-Rice Group showed that 47% of global consumers are willing to pay more for an almond product and 90% reported a preference for products containing almonds opposed to those without it. 

“The purchase intent of consumers when presented with almond on the label is in multiple of when it’s not there –  It really raises purchase intent for the consumer packaged goods companies that present it.”

Almonds getting a refresh

Almonds were the #1 nut in new product introductions from 2006-2015 (according to Innova Market Insights Data provided by the Almond Board of California) and are still the top choice of non-dairy milk alternatives.

But that popularity has slowed a bit in recent years with other nuts, legumes, and pulses gaining prominence.

In fact, new consumer research out from Sterling-Rice Group found that almonds were starting to gain a “boring”​ image. To turn this around, the branding firm launched an integrated campaign to give almonds a new “tone and personality”​ as a food that provides satiety and sustained energy throughout the day appealing to increasingly time-crunched consumers.


‘Regarding water [usage], there is a misconception’

Blue Diamond is a cooperative with more than 3,000 growers representing a significant portion of the California almond industry.  California has suffered through state-wide droughts recently that has put certain industries, such as almond growing, in the spotlight for its water usage practices.

“Regarding water, there is a misconception that almonds are very intensive in water usage, they use no more water than any other tree. Farmers in California are continuously looking for ways to improve against that,”​ Morecraft said.

According to Morecraft, the almond industry has reduced its water usage by one-third over the past twenty years by engaging in sustainability efforts such as solar power, low volume irrigation methods, and LED lighting in warehouses, to drive its environmental impact down even further.

“As an industry, we’re investing significant money to find new ways to increase that efficiency,”​ Morecraft added.

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