For select specialty snack and bakery products these days, product versatility is the norm. An ability to resonate with a strong percentage of key demographics walking the aisle at retail ostensibly brings in more sales. Often, these product dynamics embrace specialized dietary conditions du jour, like keto- or Paleo-friendly, alongside enduring “free from” categories like gluten-free, allergen-free, etc., all clearly indicated with front-of-pack (FOP) icons.

Throughout the year, the Almond Board of California has highlighted regional product innovations that prominently feature almonds—a versatile performer in its own right. The most-recent mailing hails from Chicago, a “hub for culinary innovation with abundant opportunities for all sorts of food professionals,” as the Almond Board notes on its accompanying brochure. Indeed, Chicago shines across multiple tiers of food—from its thriving restaurant scene to its iconic foods, as well as serving as the headquarters for such food industry giants as Conagra, Mondelez International, M&M/Mars, Kraft Heinz, and now Kellogg Global Snacking, among dozens of others.

Chicago is also an entrepreneurial hotspot, with the Almond Board highlighting:

  • JIMMY! Bars, offering serious nutrition in bars with specializations like peanut-free (but starring almonds), hair/skin/bone-healthy, immune-friendly, and keto-friendly, with clear front-of-pack (FOP) claims like “Grain & Gluten Free” and “Peanut & Gluten Free”
  • Fueled by AF, headed by Angelica Ford (the “AF” in the brand name…), is food with a mission, “employing individuals with intellectual and/or physical disabilities with an emphasis on creating an adaptive, enriched workplace,” as noted by the Almond Board, with FOP claims like “We Employ the Disabled,” along with “All Natural Ingredients,” “Gluten Free,” “No Sugar Alcohols,” and “Vegan”
  • Raw Chocolatey Baking Mix from LusOasis has almond flour as the first ingredient in an ultra-clean statement that also includes dates and flaxseeds, and FOP messaging runs the gamut, noting the product is Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, No Added Sugar & Sweeteners, Keto Friendly, and Superfood Rich—and in addition to the usual pancake and waffle directions, prompts the end user to go online for recipes that go “Beyond Breakfast” to make churros, doughnuts, pizza, and more

After all, when a product that appeals to a wide range of potential shoppers also has a strong degree of versatility itself, its window of opportunity opens a bit wider.

Related: Traveling through food, part 1: SpicyTraveling through food, part 2: Innovative locales