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Food for Thought: Future-Proof Ingredients could be the Key to the Post-Pandemic Landscape

This year’s global health pandemic has had a profound impact on many areas of life as we know it. The food and beverage market in particular has seen some real shifts. Consumers are spending more time at home, visiting shops less often and trying to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. This, combined with an increased awareness of food safety, the planet and origin of our food, has impacted how and what we eat; a reliable food supply and healthy, sustainable, shelf-stable ingredients are more important than ever. Ingredients like almonds are well placed to help food manufacturers innovate in step with these behaviour shifts.


Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights, discusses the drivers to some of these key trends.


Demand for immune boosting ingredients has increased, with more than a quarter (27%) of European consumers seeking products that specifically claim to boost the immune system.* These foods, with enriched vitamins and minerals, have become a priority which we expect to see long-term.

A healthy immune system, however, goes beyond the body and also factors in good mental health. There is demand for stress-relieving products that offer a sense of calm and comfort to consumers looking for help to relax. The opportunity here is for nutritionally enhanced comfort foods with the functional benefits these consumers are looking for.

How do almonds fit this trend? Almonds are one of the world’s most researched foods, with a body of over 170 research studies highlighting their health and nutrition benefits. In addition to their strong nutritional profile, almonds’ versatility enables them to play into this trend – whether this be in the form of almond butter, for example, or when paired with other ingredients as part of a cereal.


Insights show consumers are stocking their homes for longer and visiting shops less frequently, with two in five European consumers buying more food, drink and household goods.1 The shelf life of foods has become more relevant, and over 43% of Europeans are said to be placing more importance on the lifespan of what they’re buying.*

There has been a general shift back to basics. From long-lasting cupboard staples to processed, frozen, dried and canned goods (which are often more affordable) manufacturers have an opportunity to tap into this demand whilst providing the nutrition and familiar flavours that consumers are looking for.

How do almonds fit this trend? A healthy snacking essential for many already, almonds certainly play to consumer notions of a trusted and convenient basic ingredient. But the real benefit is that when packaged and stored correctly, almonds have lengthy shelf-lives meaning they’re great as both a nutritional stand-alone cupboard staple, and a useful and versatile ingredient if you’re looking to formulate longer-lasting products.


Rules and restrictions limiting visits to restaurants and coffee shops have led to increased culinary exploration in the home, with consumers seeking to recreate outside experiences and more than a quarter (28%) of Europeans experimenting in the kitchen*.

Baking is a great example here and it’s taken on a new sense of purpose, as well as fun. Initial spikes in interest saw shortages on supermarket shelves of key ingredients like flour and sugar but interestingly consumers have been open to trying alternatives when they can’t find what they need or want. Plant-based and gluten-free ingredients have been key where dairy and traditional flours have been unavailable.

How do almonds fit this trend? Almonds are perfect for developers looking to create indulgent at home occasions for consumers, particularly when paired with something sweet like chocolate or caramel. The breadth of almond forms available means they can be used for formulations seeking to emulate traditional ingredients, such as almond butter, milk or flour.


The pandemic has accelerated an expectation for business to prioritise ‘purpose’, whether that’s a commitment to the environment, employees or local communities.

In the context of food, consumers are looking for sustainably sourced ingredients from companies who act in the interests of those working across the supply chain. Manufacturers looking out for consumers, employees and the planet are building trust with their customers and storytelling is the key to success, reassuring and demonstrating that there is proof behind the purpose.

How do almonds fit this trend? California almonds are an ingredient that both consumers and manufacturers can feel good about. They are grown predominantly by third- and fourth-generation farmers who are committed to protecting their communities and environment. Not only does this provide a story for manufacturers to tell, it also provides peace of mind when sourcing almonds as an ingredient.

What next?

Whilst the evolution of the world’s ‘new normal’ continues, the change in focus for the consumer is evident. Whether these shifts are here to stay, or not, the future of food is certainly an interesting topic for discussion and there are clear opportunities to cater to new consumer demands. Those who can innovate in line with these new trends will be on the front foot as the long-term impacts of the current health crisis become clear.

1 ⃰ INNOVA COVID 19 consumer survey 2020. Country: UK, France, Germany, Spain and Netherlands Average of UK, FR, Spain, Germany and Netherlands