"As an almond-focused grower cooperative and an innovation leader in almond-based ingredients and consumer products, we are thrilled to collaborate with Brightseed to gain a deeper understanding of this unique superfood," Kurt Waananen, senior director of R&D for Blue Diamond, shared in the announcement press release. "Almonds are already well-studied, but this collaboration gives us a deeper understanding and new ways to view future exploration of nutritional benefits and clinical studies."
Using AI to discover the health potential of almonds, tapping into new demands from consumers
As part of the partnership, Brightseed’s AI-based platform will probe “the dark matter of plant material” – in this case almonds – to find bioactive compounds. Forager has already predicted 188 previously known and novel bioactives in Blue Diamond’s California almonds, around isolated immunity, metabolic health, and mental wellness, Waananen told FoodNavigator-USA.
“Almonds are associated with several health benefits through human clinical trials (heart health, blood sugar control, weight management, gut health, exercise recovery, skin health, etc.), and the work with bioactives may provide new insights on the mechanisms behind these benefits. The work may also help us identify new health benefits and/or create more value for upcycled streams like almond skins and almond hulls.”
At the same time that the two companies are looking to partner on finding the health benefits of almonds, consumers are increasingly demanding products with functional benefits. Brightseed found 27% of 2,800 US adults surveyed want to understand how plants work to maintain health, wellness, and longevity, a group of consumers Brightseed dubbed the "bioactivisit."
For its part, Blue Diamond is "keeping an eye on trends" and is exploring how it can use the partnership to find new ways to better capture health-conscious consumers' attention online and in the grocery store, said Sarb Dhanjal, senior director of consumer insights analytics and advocacy for Blue Diamond.
"It’s important that we target consumers who lean into healthy lifestyle choices and nutrition with the relevant product attributes to influence food and beverage purchases. Therefore, communicating our brand differentiation, price, perceived tastiness, and meaningful healthiness of our products in a simple way is key."
With this Brightseed partnership, Blue Diamond hopes to "amplify the benefits of our almonds in new ways to address existing consumer health needs," which can include moving more into categories like gut health, Dhanjal said. "Consumers and shoppers are faced with infinite choices in the snacking category, and we need to break through the noise to capture their attention," she added.
“As food and beverage trends evolve, we see almonds continuing to attract consumers given the growing demand for plant-forward innovation, holistic health, irresistible taste appeal, and sustainability. We anticipate future trends will be clean living, traceability, and transparency in where food comes from, and further reduction of additives and artificial ingredients."