Chocolate products with almonds are the preference of consumers around the world, according to two recent studies from the Almond Board of California (ABC). The same research concluded that happiness, taste and stress reduction are the top three reasons consumers eat chocolate, which they are consuming an average of 10.6 times per month.1 Taste and experience play a significant role when consumers are selecting what type of chocolate they’d like.1

Nuts, and almonds in particular, have proven to be an important ingredient in chocolate products, and trend forecasters see ample opportunity for future growth and innovation in the confectionary category. Globally, chocolate and almonds are consistently enjoyed together, with consumers stating that almonds make chocolate crunchier (81 percent), more nutritious (82 percent), satisfying (81 percent) and more filling (77 percent).1 Consumers are also eating the two together quite frequently, consuming chocolate and almond products an average of three times per month around the world.1

With their many attributes, how do almonds fit into current trends? “As confectioners stay on top of consumer wants and needs, and look for exciting flavor and ingredient combinations in chocolate concepts, almonds can play an integral part as a familiar and popular, yet versatile ingredient,” said Harbinder Maan, associate director, trade marketing and stewardship, ABC. “Almonds, as a product and inclusion, add a natural source of texture, flavor and healthy halo to chocolate confections.”

According to the study, 71 percent of surveyed consumers stated they were more likely to buy chocolate with almonds than any other nut.1 Further confirming the popularity of the pair; when asked to build their ideal chocolate bar, consumers chose almonds not only as the top nut, but as the number one ingredient overall, taking 44 percent of overall share. This has been the case since the study launched in 2010, and holds true for milk, dark, and white chocolate bars with almonds.

“Innovation in chocolate is driven by consumer interest in new combinations of textures, flavors and ingredients,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “One trend is tastes for new experiences. That’s talking about flavors and textures that are bolder, more authentic or complex. Thankfully, the many different textures of almonds, from smooth almond butter to crunchy whole natural almonds, fit perfectly into these trends and are very complimentary in an array of applications. Consumers nowadays are more sophisticated and more adventurous, and open to these pairings.”

With consumer tastes for chocolate expanding into new directions, almonds are a staple ingredient for achieving a variety of textures and rich mouthfeel. With more than 15 forms of varying textures, almonds also pair well with bright, unique and even intense flavors. Whole natural almonds have been popular for chocolate coated almonds and chocolate bars; they also promote healthy positioning and premium appeal.2 Almond slivers are popular as toppings in or on chocolate bars and in fruit-nut clusters, and appeared to bolster the “indulgence” factor with consumers.2 “Indulgence” is also the dominant positioning platform at the core of all product launches in the chocolate confectionery category.2 Almond pieces have recently grown in popularity as the favored form in chocolate, surging from 25 percent in 2014 to almost a third in 2016.1

In all of their many forms and textures, almonds bring a wide variety of benefits to chocolate products, and consumers feel they make chocolate products crunchier, tastier and higher-quality.1 Their popularity and versatility help put almonds at the top of the list for manufacturers looking to innovate or enhance current offerings, particularly in the indulgence, clear label, free from and health categories driving consumer interest.1,2

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1. 2016 Global Chocolate Study. Sterling-Rice Group.
2. 2016 Chocolate & Almonds Study: Insights and Inspiration for Innovation. Innova Market Insights.