almonds and chocolate

Extra Crunchy. Super Crispy. And now featuring “Whole Almonds!”

Over the last couple years, texture descriptions on new products have become more elaborate, and there’s an increasing use of superlatives to convey the “ultimate texture experience,” according to a recent white paper from the California Almond Board.

And it’s not just the words that are getting more elaborate. Visual texture descriptions are also receiving more prominence on packaging, while the size of the texture-evoking words is also increasing.

In recent years, the most significant changes for texture have been:

1. Bigger inclusions, such as chunks, clusters, bites and nuggets.

2. More shape innovation to achieve extra crunch or improved taste.

3. Achieving multiple textures at once, such as chewy, smooth and crunchy.

One of the most up and coming textures has been “crunch.” In fact, between 2007 and 2010, there was a 94.9 percent increase in the number of global products launched that claimed a crunch, according to the most recent data available from CAB. 

chocolate shavings

And almonds have the most highly rated crunch factor for consumers, according to research from the Sterling Rice Group.

When it comes to almonds, the top five texture cues include:

1. Elaborate crunchy/crispy claims.

2. The use of almond visuals (whole almonds, slivers, crushed) on product packaging.

3. “Almond crunch’ is being used as a flavor name in its own right.

4. Almonds are an integral ingredient for many clusters.

5. The increased use of whole almonds for more mouthfeel.

6. Products are claiming to contain specified percentages of almonds.

Almonds don’t just offer a crunchy sensation though. They also help boost the value of a confection.. Seen as the most premium nut compared to 13 other nuts, they tend to convey a more premium, gourmet appeal.

In fact, four of the five top product categories — chocolate; snack nuts and seeds’ sweet biscuits and cookies; and cakes, pastries and sweet goods — all had a substantial higher price if they featured almonds as a significant ingredient, compared to products without any almonds.

“Numerous market categories continue to use almonds in new premium product formulations, from breakfast cereals and bars to candy and ice cream, and product launch activity for this position is expected to grow,” reads a report from the California Almond Board. “And, clearly consumers demanding almonds as a premium, indulgent, gourmet ingredient are willing to pay for them.”

From the looks of it, the successful products of the future will all be feature prices and textures that make consumers nuts — in a good way.