The past few years has seen a growing trend towards healthier snacking, with consumers increasingly demanding traceability, too.
Answering these demands, one nut seems to be dominating as a key ingredient.
“Almonds are a great source of minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium and phosphorous, and are also free from cholesterol and salt, making them a great addition to any diet,” said David Carvalho, CEO of Vercruz Almonds.
The humble almond is predicted to experience healthy growth over the next couple of years, more so than any other nut. In 2022, the global almond products market was calculated to be valued at $7.9bn, according to Future Market Insight, anticipated to tip over $2bn by 2024.
The main driver behind the boom of this humble nut is its adoption in a variety of products – from a milk alternative in beverages, to adding a health halo to snacks.
“Two handfuls of whole almonds provide 14% of our daily dietary fibre needs, essential for a healthy gut and to regulate cholesterol,” said Carvalho.
“That amount represents 28 to 30 grams of almonds, enough to also help prevent certain types of cancer, as well as containing 37% of vitamin E requirements.
“When whole, almonds are richer in fibre and provide five times more phenolic compounds than when blanched. Put simply, they are an incredibly powerful antioxidant.”
New taste profile
However, he cautions that – like any ingredient – eating in moderation is the key to obtaining all the benefits of this superfood.
“Whether as a snack, in your plant-based milk, in pastes and recipes, almonds are your daily partner in a healthy diet.
“At Veracruz, we are committed to producing the best Mediterranean almond varieties, including Belona, Soleta, Avijor and Guara.
“The flavour profile is very different to the vast majority of American-grown almonds, giving consumers a new, exciting option to try, that is both nutritious and tasty.”
The importance of transparency
Carvalho noted transparency today is an essential component to all foods – let alone snacks – among consumers.
He advises that the producer ensure their entire production process can be traceable: from seeding to harvesting and even packaging.
“End-to-end transparency is vital in communicating the quality of our product,” said Carvalho.
“Technology such as blockchain and artificial intelligence all play a crucial role in smart food traceability, transparency and safety.”
He noted that blockchain, for example, is a vital tool in boosting traceability, as it allows each product’s journey from farm to fork to be traced with time-stamped information.
“The technology, which collates interlinked data on vital factors – from sowing seeds and harvesting, to processing and distribution – enables farmers to monitor the entire lifecycle of their production process and gives the producer, industry, distribution and the consumer access to reliable information about every step of the food’s journey.
“Blockchain then stores this data is a secure way, which cannot be changes or falsified. This information can then be shared with everyone in the supply chain, from distributors and retailers to end consumers.
“When the product reaches the end user, all this information on the food’s journey can be accessed via smart labelling technologies, such as QR codes.”
Walking the talk
Carvalho said Veracruz has begun recording production data, meaning all the almonds grown in its orchards will be traceable.
“Our aim is for the consumers to soon be able to read a QR code on the packaging and access a website with the record about the almond that they are consuming.
“Every player in this extensive and complex chain will know the path our almonds take and be assured that they are safe and healthy for all to enjoy.”