How We Grow

2022 Spring How We Grow

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Almonds and Chocolate Are the World's Perfect Pairing – with Distinctions Here's the good news about almonds and chocolate: People love the combination pretty much everywhere. However, every region of the world loves their almonds and chocolate paired a little differently and nailing those nuances can mean big payoffs. For the Almond Board of California (ABC) marketing team, research into who prefers what and where is enormously useful to continue growing the almond market, especially the almond-and-chocolate market. "Chocolate is the No. 1 favorite candy snack for consumers by a large margin," said Harbinder Maan, ABC's associate director of Trade Marketing and Stewardship. "And almonds are consistently the No. 1 ingredient that global consumers say is their ideal pairing with chocolate." That was confirmed in ABC's 2020 Global Chocolate Study. No surprise, right? Just look at a candy aisle in any supermarket in the U.S., or any market around the world and you'll find lots and lots of chocolate bars with almonds, almond paste, almond butter and more. In fact, in recent years, according to Innova Market Insights, chocolate bars with almonds have been the No. 1 category for new product introductions with almonds. But as good as that sounds, it brings up the question, "How do you continue the growth?" That's where the research comes in. "Chocolate manufactures know how to use almonds," Maan said. "The heritage of combining nuts with chocolate goes back over a century. There is no technical information we can give them that they don't already know." But candy makers do want to learn the latest insights into what will sell and why. That's why ABC has sponsored chocolate- related research for more than a decade. Always looking for new ideas "We want to keep inspiring manufacturers to use almonds in new and fun ways that will connect with consumers," Maan said. "That's why we share our consumer research. That's the type of information they can really use." For instance, research showed that not only are almonds well-liked, but they also impart a "health halo" on chocolate bars, as they do on other foods, Maan said. In fact, 68% of consumers around the world said chocolate bars with almonds were healthier than chocolate with other nuts, according to ABC research. "Our research shows people feel less guilty eating bars with almonds and they feel better about gifting chocolate with almonds," she said. "Consumers believe almonds are more natural, healthier and are higher quality than other nuts with chocolate." That is particularly useful information for manufacturers, not only for general marketing efforts or for creating new products, but also for help dealing with criticism in a category under fire for its use of sugar. "They're all looking for new ways to reduce sugar and almonds can help them," Maan said. "They have a natural sweetness of their own, which means manufacturers have an opportunity to put less sugar in an almond bar." RESEARCH UPDATE Consumers preferred chocolate with nuts over plain chocolate bars and almonds are by far the No. 1 nut choice! 7

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