Almond Board of California and Drexel University are hosting a student product development competition for the first time this spring, providing students with the opportunity to develop next-generation almond snack products that cater to younger consumers and meet the taste and nutrition needs of tomorrow.

Students majoring in culinary arts and science and nutrition sciences, as well as food entrepreneurship and innovation certificate students in Drexel's College of Nursing and Health Professions, will be challenged to create an almond-based packaged snack product with functional, better-for-you attributes that appeal to Gen Z and millennial consumers. The competition is open to Drexel University postsecondary (18+) students studying culinary arts, food science, culinary science, nutrition, food entrepreneurship, food studies, or a related field. Students begin the product development process independently or as part of their coursework in food product development in Drexel's Department of Food and Hospitality Management and incubate their ideas further in the Drexel Food Lab.

Drexel Food Lab is the food product design and culinary innovation lab within Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions with programming that applies culinary arts and science to improve the health of people, the planet, and economies.

"Almonds fit into the forefront of food trends, and Drexel's programs have an impressive track record for inspiring students who will go on to advance the food industry," says Charice Grace, manager of trade marketing and stewardship at the Almond Board of California. "This is an exciting collaboration and opportunity to envision the future for almonds in snack products, and explore new ways to drive snacking as Gen Z and millennials demonstrate undeniable influence and purchasing power."

Almonds have been the number one nut used in new product development since 2006, according to the latest Innova Market Insights' Global New Product Introductions Report for almonds. According to IFIC's 2022 Food and Health Survey of 1,005 Americans ages 18 to 80, 77% of Gen Z report snacking at least once a day. Almonds offer six grams of plant-based protein, four grams of filling dietary fiber, 13 grams of unsaturated fats, and just one gram of saturated fat per one-ounce serving. They are a low-glycemic index food and provide important vitamins and minerals including vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium—making them an ideal fit for smart snacking.

"One of the pillars of Drexel University's strategic plan is 'partnerships' and this project represents a perfect example of a partnership that integrates classroom learning, applied research in food and health, and experiential learning, all under the umbrella of food entrepreneurship and innovation," says Jonathan Deutsch, Ph.D., CRC, professor of food and hospitality management and director of the Drexel Food Lab. "We are excited that the Almond Board of California is looking to our students for support in creating the next generation of healthy snacks."

A panel of judges with expertise in food and culinary science and product marketing will evaluate each competition submission against key attributes including creativity of innovation, almond usage, market appeal, and sensory execution.

Finalists will be recognized in March, and the winning product will be sampled at the Almond Board of California's booth during the IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo from July 16-19.

Food professionals can follow the Almond Board of California's Nuts about Almond Inspiration LinkedIn page for the latest competition updates. For more information about the Drexel Food Lab, visit the Food Lab website.