For many years, industry experts have had their eye on the growing consumer demand for clean-label, plant-based products. Innova Market Insights for several years has identified each as a top trend in the marketplace. As far back as 2017, Innova reported that 7 out of 10 US consumers sought healthier snacking options. Natural, healthy, “free-from” labels continue to be key benefits and are top priorities when consumers choose snacks. Plant-based ingredients can deliver on all three.
Enter nuts and seeds. Not only are they a great-tasting, stand-alone snack, but they can also bring nutritional benefits to snack foods, desserts, and more. According to a recent interview with Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, the clean-label demand and “interest in plant-based products are drawing focus on nuts and seeds in snacks, bringing them more than a nutritional edge. Their focus as protein-packed has always been known, but now the brands are using seeds, nuts, and other inclusions to bring a textural and flavorful element into their snack products,” says explained a representative for Sensient Flavors, Hoffman Estates, IL.
Nuts and seeds offer the perfect trifecta of taste, texture, and nutrition. All provide protein, fiber, and vitamins, and minerals. Research has shown that nuts and seeds can be beneficial for heart health, weight management, blood sugar, and healthy aging.
In fact, in 2003, the FDA approved a Qualified Health Claim regarding most nuts and heart disease: “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts [such as almonds] as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. [See nutrition information for fat content.]” The types of nuts eligible for this claim are restricted to almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts, and walnuts. In 2017, macadamia nuts were approved for a similar Qualified Health Claim: “Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces per day of macadamia nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and not resulting in increased intake of saturated fat or calories may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. See nutrition information for fat [and calorie] content.”
Snack and bakery manufacturers are targeting this growing market segment by using versatile and nutritious ingredients like almonds, which are plant-based, free from gluten or dairy, and available in a range of forms including almond flour, almond butter, or sliced and whole natural almonds.
An article by Foodprocessing.com cited “The most common applications of almonds are snacks, cereal, and baked goods. However, other applications are on the rise: A recent Innova Market study showed steady growth in categories such as desserts and ice cream (+10 percent in 2018 over 2017), dairy (+13 percent), spreads (+29 percent), and sports nutrition (+95 percent). According to Innova, in 2020, almonds were the number one ingredient in global new products and were the number one ideal ingredient in global consumers’ chocolate products.
H&W Ingredients, a subsidiary of Skidmore Sales, represents the nation’s top seed and nut suppliers and offers a wide variety of nuts and seeds for every application. Contact your Skidmore Sales rep to learn more about we can help you source all the ideal ingredients for your next product innovation.