Explore how the better-for-us trend is influencing innovation, including:
- Factors influencing purchase behaviors
- How almonds can play a role
For more expert insight on this growing trend, we spoke with Dr. Dan Sonke, the Senior Director of Sustainability at Blue Diamond Global Ingredients Division.
What's driving the "better-for-us" movement?
The concept of "better-for-us" in food occurs in a product that is "better-for-me," or nutritious or functional, and "better for the planet or society," in other words, environmentally friendly or produced in ways that are socially beneficial. Consumers have increasing concerns about climate change and other environmental impacts associated with agriculture, but they still want to enjoy products that improve their personal health in a way that fits their lifestyle. They want to invest in products that align with their desire for personal health and lifestyle control as well as societal and planetary health.
What do consumers expect from better-for-us products?
When shopping for better-for-us offerings, many consumers expect convenience, nutrition, and sustainability. A product that's formulated with functional nutrients equipped with a sustainability message, like almond ingredients for protein and fiber, in a convenient package helps check all the boxes when it comes to consumer preferences.
How much better is a plant-based diet for the environment's health?
Agricultural systems vary in their environmental impact, but consumers are often concerned when they hear estimates that it takes 20 to 100 times more land to produce a kilogram of protein from beef versus plant-based proteins. Plant proteins appear to not only lower the carbon impact from one's diet, but also free up land for food production for a growing world population. Substituting plant-based foods for some or all of their meat consumption becomes a simple way to be part of a solution.
How are almonds "better-for-us" products?
The nutritional benefits of almonds have long been recognized, but in recent years researchers are recognizing their climate benefits as well. For example, similar to trees in a forest, almond trees use photosynthesis to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and turn it into the components of the wood in the tree. They do this for the 25 years that an average almond orchard is alive. In fact, Dr. Alissa Kendall from UC Davis has documented that "California almonds have a lower carbon footprint than many other nutrient-dense foods."
Her research team also has demonstrated that almond orchards may be able to achieve carbon neutrality. This can be done by returning trees to the soil as wood chips at the end of the orchard life, locking the carbon in the soil for an even longer period. Additionally, the frequently cited EAT-Lancet Commission on the intersection of nutrition and climate change recommends a significant global increase in the consumption of nuts, recognizing the health and climate benefits of nut trees, such as almonds.
Almond ingredients, including almond flour and almond butter, are naturally nutritious and are a good source of both fiber and protein, as well as vitamins, like vitamin e and magnesium. These plant-based and clean label health benefits can be infused into a variety of in-demand better-for-us products, like non-dairy yogurt and confectionery treats.
Lastly, almond ingredients, such as whole or slivered almonds, are ideal inclusions within convenience snack mixes or protein bars. The texture not only bodes well for satisfying the crunch-factor, but also maintains its nutritional value, appearance, and texture in on-the-go products.
How does Blue Diamond produce an overall "better-for-us" almond product?
Blue Diamond is a cooperative of farmers, largely made up of small-scale family farms with less than 100 acres of almonds. Incorporating Blue Diamond products not only helps to keep small farms viable in California, but we also pay the farmers a higher price for their almonds when they participate in the Blue Diamond sustainable agriculture program. The highest payment goes to a grower who is certified in Bee Friendly Farming, a certification which requires creating biodiversity in, or around, the orchard in specific ways to benefit pollinators. These programs are driving the adoption of environmentally friendly practices around biodiversity and soil health in the process of growing a very nutritious product.
Incorporating almonds in a variety of forms, including almond protein powder and almond butter, can help manufacturers add important nutritional benefits to their on-the-go products. Utilizing an almond supplier with demonstrated environmental results, such as Blue Diamond Growers, add the sustainability focus customers are actively seeking, bringing a complete story to your products.
Want to learn more about how to formulate better-for-us products with the help of almond ingredients? Check out our article on "Tips for Formulating Better-For-Us Products," here. If you're ready to kick-off the formulation process, contact us, or request a sample today!
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