A’Mond transforms California’s prized nut into novel snack

By Kristine Sherred

- Last updated on GMT

A'Mond won an NCA innovation award in May, after launching just two months earlier at Canada West.
A'Mond won an NCA innovation award in May, after launching just two months earlier at Canada West.

Related tags Almond California Quinoa Snacks better-for-you healthy snacking Nuts Sorghum Canada Sweets&Snacks Expo

The mixed flour puff – manufactured by Pure Nature Foods, a producer specializing in grain-based snack formulations – blends California almonds with familiar snack flavors and probiotics.

The base blend comprises almonds, rice, quinoa and sorghum, which is extruded through patented equipment, according to brand manager Ray Porcellato. A’Mond is available in three flavors – Honey Chipotle, Smoke House and Cheddar Cheese – with a probiotic blend called GanedenBC added during the seasoning step.

“Not having any wheat or corn in it is on-trend itself,”​ Porcellato told BakeryandSnacks, noting the product is also non-GMO and Kosher. “To add probiotics on there is really something that no one else was doing.”

Irish ingredient company Kerry produces the ‘extremely stable’ probiotic for A’Mond.

Ganeden – currently found in more than 900 products worldwide – is unique thanks to a natural protective shell that allows the nutritional benefits to survive germination at higher moisture and temperature levels.

The probiotics commonly found in yogurt, for instance (lactobacillus and bifidobacterium) ​are not shelf-stable in other foods.

According to Kerry, three-quarters of consumers prefer to ingest probiotics through food and beverage rather than a supplement, and two-thirds are willing to pay more for probiotic-boosted foods.

Consumers buying almonds 'like they're going out of style'

Pure Nature enlisted Western Foods, a California supplier dedicated to specialty grains milled in a gluten-free facility, to develop its first in-house branded snack last year.

A’Mond was formulated to “hit on that better-for-you snacking trend​,​ he said.

The company kept the flavors familiar: “Trying to find common ground with salt and vinegar, barbecue, any sort of cheese – already having an attachment [makes] an easier sell.”

He said the company’s R&D team has already created several up-and-coming snack brands, though he could not specify which ones.

Since launching in March at Canada West (one of two annual expos hosted by the Canadian Health Food Association), A’Mond has already landed in the natural aisle of more than 300 grocery stores and Costco locations, mainly in California. A 3oz bag runs for an RRP of $3.49, while a 13oz club bag goes for $5.99-$6.99.

Aerial view of a large almond orchard in California, where 80% of the world's almonds originate. Pic: Getty Images/alabn

The package features a ‘Made in California’ seal, which Porcellato believes has buoyed the brand’s reputation in its home state, which produces 80% of the world’s almond supply, according to the Almond Board of California.

(The California Department of Health confirmed that it does not regulate the use of the term ‘Made in California’ for packaged food.)

Despite the proliferation of nut allergies, Porcellato does not see the brand as pigeonholed by its almond foundation.

“There’s already a huge percentage of the consumer base buying almonds,”​ he told us. “We didn’t feel that because it was almond-based that people wouldn’t buy it. They’re already buying almonds like they’re going out of style. It is a superfood ingredient consumed at an alarming rate.”​ 

Organic growth

Looking forward to its first full year, A’Mond has its eye on organic US growth, said Porcellato. Smaller, regional chains with a local focus have already played a major role in permeating the consumer psyche.

In May, A’Mond joined several big CPG names, like Cheez-Its and Pringles, as a finalist in the National Confectioners Association’s innovation awards.

“Everybody else in there is spending millions and millions on advertising and everything else, so they’re [going to] get the nod even if their product is not that great,”​ said Porcellato.

And who are we? Our nomination to be in the top-five has way more validity than the other guys because we didn’t spend a nickel on advertising. To hang with those guys, and be there… completely organically, based on the product, the taste and texture, branding and marketing, the on-trend... we’re quite proud of it.

He believes snacks like A’Mond will be successful as shoppers continue to pay more attention to nutrition panels.

“There was a time in the not-too-distant past [that] I wouldn’t really look at nutrition panels or ingredient decks on anything,”​ he said.

“Now, everybody from 8-year-olds to the sort of 50-year-old guy who’s not an Iron Man athlete is reading nutrition facts. In this sort of retail landscape, it’s going to matter.”

Especially, he continued, as grocery stores expand their ‘good-for-you’ sections.

“Not only is the consumer changing slowly, the stores are changing with the consumer.”

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