Originally printed in the December 2019 issue of Produce Business.
‘Good for you’ attributes and variety of uses are two big selling points.
Almonds represent a major opportunity for retailers, as consumers nursing the twin desires for healthier and more flavorful snacks and recipe ingredients are eager to seek them out in the produce department.
More than anything else, generating greater sales is a matter of pointing out almonds’ many benefits and possibilities.
“Almonds have been the No. 1 nut in global new product introductions since 2006,” says Harbinder Maan, associate director of trade marketing and Stewardship at the Almond Board of California in Modesto, CA. “They generate wide appeal across demographics and long-standing consumer demand for multiple reasons.”
According to the Board, research has suggested that almonds eaten as a snack can help curb hunger and satiate appetites, a benefit that is of interest to a wide range of consumers and can be highlighted by retailers and product developers alike.
“Retailers can continue to emphasize health benefits,” says Maan, “as almonds are already associated in consumers’ minds with being the healthiest nut and the second-healthiest individually named snack food, according to a 2017 Global Trends Forecast from Innova Market Insights.”
Consumers, Maan explains, are “embracing a cleaner and healthier lifestyle, and the availability of more better-for-you snacks support improved daily eating habits.” Retailers can answer these trends, he suggests, by emphasizing almonds as a healthy, guilt-free yet indulgent snack.
“Almonds are an extremely versatile ingredient with a subtle taste that can adapt to varying flavor preferences and pairings. Within the produce department, retailers can highlight craveable almond snack mix varieties, snack packs featuring almond butter as a dip for fruit, or display whole, chopped or slivered almonds with popular fruits and nuts for at-home recipe inspiration.”
Daniel Zedan, owner and president of Nature’s Finest Foods, Ltd., a Batavia, IL-based marketing and consulting group specializing in the marketing of tree nuts, recommends retailers promote almonds’ health benefits.
“As a retailer, I would harp on the health benefits and also the versatility,” he says. “Almonds are a health alternative to some of the snacks people would normally get. They are very versatile and go with just about anything, with only a few exceptions. Almonds are great for salads, snacking, vegetable dishes and almost any dish you’d want to put them in.”
Maan notes that almonds are available in many forms, and “offer crunch, texture and toasty flavor to holiday baking across the board.” Most traditionally, marzipan, which contains almond meal, is a timeless ingredient in holiday baking, used in biscuits, glazed, layered or topped on holiday fruit cakes, or as a filling in pastries. Chopped or slivered almonds can bring a premium feel and satisfying crunch to baked goods when sprinkled on top. “Consumers interested in gluten-free recipes can incorporate sliced, slivered and chopped almonds, along with almond flour and almond butter into their holiday baking.”
Produce, Pallets, Profits
At John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc. in Elgin, IL, Angelika Husmann, senior brand manager for Orchard Valley Harvest, Sunshine Country, Squirrel Brand, and Southern Style Nuts brands, finds that utilizing its quarter-pallet displays in the produce department is an effective way to merchandise and market its almond products.
“Orchard Valley Harvest targets people who lead active lifestyles and look for better-for-you snacks,” says Husmann. The brand promotes the healthy aspects of almonds through specific wellness mixes. “All three of our wellness mixes — Heart Healthy Blend, Antioxidant Mix, and Omega-3 Mix — contain almonds.”
In addition to locating them in the produce department adjacent to vegetables for salad mixes and dried fruit, almonds can be merchandised in many locations in the store. That includes the bakery where they can top breads, cakes and cookies as well as in the meat and cheese departments, where almond flour can coat seafood, chicken and cheeses.
“Throughout the store, there are places where you can highlight almonds and promote them,” says Zedan. “There are at least six places in the store where you should highlight almonds, which is true for some of the other nuts as well.
“Use them to help promote some of the other items you may try to sell in the store,” he says. “Like a lot of tree nuts, if you’re not highlighting almonds in at least a half dozen places, you’re missing the boat and missing a great marketing opportunity.”
Most produce sections stock in shell nuts for the holidays, points out Husmann. While Orchard Valley Harvest does not have any baking nuts, “We do offer salad toppers that are the perfect addition to holiday meals and salads.”
The salad toppers are merchandised in the produce section near the salads. Management considers this is a “great way to encourage customers to brighten up any salad, oatmeal, yogurt or even cottage cheese.” When Orchard Valley Harvest first introduced Salad Toppers into the market, she explains, “We found that salads are the No. 1 usage occasions for nuts. This led us to introduce five different salad toppers into the marketplace.” Three of those salad toppers contain almonds.
The brand also offers an almond coated in 64% cacao dark chocolate. The item is one of top sellers, says Husmann, “because it is the perfect indulgent treat that you can feel good about eating.”