KANSAS CITY — Nuts remain a staple of new food and beverage innovation, but they are showing up in more unusual pairings and applications as product developers seek new ways to capitalize on the health halo surrounding the ingredient.
Companies like Simple Mills, Chicago, use almond flour in many applications, including crackers and baking mixes, to cater to consumers seeking gluten-free, grain-free and soy-free options. Other companies, such as St. Louis-based Post Holdings with its PowerBar brand, are introducing products featuring nuts in unique pairings. During the National Association of Convenience Stores annual trade show earlier this month in Chicago, the company introduced its Jerky & Nut Savory Snack Bars. The products feature meat jerky pieces combined with nuts and dried fruit. Another company, Pamela’s Products, Ukiah, Calif., recently introduced a new ready-to-eat cookie line called The Nutty Cookie. The cookies are formulated using a pairing of almond and walnut flours combined with coconut. The new line is available in three varieties, including ginger and spice, chocolate chip, and macaroon.
The attractiveness of new categories is apparent to industry suppliers. This past June, Golden Peanut and Tree Nuts, a business unit of the Archer Daniels Midland Co., Chicago, announced plans to expand its manufacturing plant in Blakely, Ga., to accommodate its growing peanut flour capacity. Expansion was expected to begin during the fourth quarter of this year.
“The demand for plant-based protein ingredients such as peanut flour is growing as consumers focus on healthier food and beverage solutions as well as clean and clear labels,” said Bruce Kotz, vice-president of specialty products for Golden Peanut. “At facilities such as Blakely, Golden Peanut can deliver U.S.-sourced peanut flour in both organic and conventional forms for customers to use in a variety of finished goods and formulations. Continuing to improve and invest in these facilities and communities helps ensure we can continue to meet that demand and best serve our customers now and in the future.”
The Blue Diamond Almond Growers have embarked on a similar project at its manufacturing plant in Salida, Calif. With almond flour demand at an all-time high, the additional capacity will serve national and global customers purchasing almond flour as an ingredient for finished goods, as well as those who repackage for retail distribution, the company said.