How We Grow

2022 Spring How We Grow

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Subtle differences are everything in creating new products So, in short, almonds plus chocolate equals not just yummy, but a less guilty yummy. Now comes the nuance that can help markets grow: Learning what combinations and textures are the favorites of different consumers around the world. "There are lot of differences based on taste and even culture," Maan said. "For instance, we used to ask consumers, how do you eat your chocolate bar? In Asian markets, it brought people the greatest joy when they shared. In the U.S., it was always more personal. People didn't want to share." OK, then. It's possible the U.S. might be a nation of chocolate and almond hoarders. That's just a start. The real valuable information is about preferences. So ABC researchers asked consumers around the world to build their ideal chocolate bar. In almost every country that has been surveyed, more consumers preferred chocolate with nuts over plain chocolate bars and almonds are by far the No. 1 nut choice. Also, in most countries surveyed, consumers preferred milk chocolate over dark chocolate, although the intensity of that preference varied. Now come the subtle differences, according to the 2020 Global Chocolate Study, which surveyed consumers in 10 key markets around the world. In the U.S., for instance, people preferred their chocolate and almonds combined with – in order – cherries, caramel and sea salt. In the U.K., the preference was to ditch the cherries and just mingle their chocolate and almonds with caramel and sea salt. And in Mexico, people best like their chocolate and almonds with almond butter, then cherries. The same nuances showed up in people's texture preferences. In the U.S. and U.K., people's tastes were very similar. But in Mexico, more people want the centers creamy and the texture crispy (by a bit more than 10% for both.) The U.S. and U.K. go more for smooth, also by a bit more than 10%. Yet there is one consistency across the globe in texture – a growing desire for crunchy. "We continue to see that texture matters to consumers and they respond to creative ways that manufacturers combine ingredients to add texture," Maan said. "The good news here is that almonds are a big help to adding crunch," she said. Taking it to the chefs ABC researchers took another step to help manufactures and to keep consumers excited. After gathering info on preference in different markets, they gave that intelligence to top chefs in those regions and asked them to create chocolate and almond combinations to fit their markets. "We told them, 'Use your imagination, and we'll share what you come up with,'" Maan said. "They gave us recipes and ideas to share with trade and media that also helps inspire them to come up with their own recipes." A few examples of what the chefs created: Dark chocolate bark with pretzels and candied slivered almond and currants from Chef Aneesh Popat in the U.K., almond goji berry dark chocolate bonbons from Chef Brian Tan in China, and almond coriander praline truffles from Chef Annie Rupani in the U.S. "Some of the creations are really best for restaurants, but the ideas can be inspiring," Maan said. "And some of those ideas can be quite easy for manufacturers to build on." There is one side effect of doing this kind of research. "The more we read the results," Maan said, "the hungrier we get." GLOBAL INSIGHTS Surveyed global consumers report the top benefits of almonds include making chocolate: Top health claims for global confectionery product launches with almonds: • Gluten-free • Vegetarian/Vegan • No Additives/Preservatives • Natural • High/source of fiber • High/source of protein Almond Board of California 8

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